Whilst discharge coming from your penis may be alarming, there isn’t necessarily a need to panic. There are several other reasons why discharge may occur, other than STIs. However, if you are at risk of an STI, it is always a good idea to get tested. Unusual discharge could indicate a need to visit a sexual health clinic.

There are a number of possible explanations for penile discharge:

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urethra, usually caused by bacteria which enters the urinary tract.

Symptoms include:

  • Clear or pus-like discharge
  • Frequent urination
  • Burning during urination
  • Cloudy/smelly urine

Urethritis is an inflammation or infection of the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder). It is usually caused by bacteria passed through unprotected sex with someone who is infected but can also be caused by non-sexually transmitted bacteria.

Symptoms include:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Itching near the penis’ opening
  • Blood found in semen or urine

Balanitis is an inflammation of the head of the penis caused by poor hygiene under the foreskin, an allergic reaction to soaps, condoms or other, or an STI.

Symptoms include:

  • Discharge from under the foreskin
  • Itchiness
  • Pain when urinating
  • Blotchy rash

STIs which can cause discharge

In many people, STIs will show no symptoms. However, if you are experiencing unusual discharge, it is important to get tested for the following STIs, for which symptoms may include:


  • Watery discharge/mucus from the tip of the penis
  • Urethritis
  • Testicular pain


  • White, yellow or green fluid from the tip of the penis
  • Pain during urination
  • Testicular swelling


  • Discharge from the urethra
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain or irritation in the penis


  • Thin, white discharge
  • Need to urinate frequently
  • Pain during urination or ejaculation

So, should I get tested?

Unusual discharge coming from your penis could be a sign of any of the above. If you are concerned about your sexual health, an STI test is a good place to start. This way you can ensure that your health is protected and that you are treating the right problem effectively.

If you suspect that you have urethritis, testing for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Mycoplasma is important, since urethritis is associated with the bacteria which causes these STIs. The viruses which cause Herpes and HPV/Genital Warts can also lead to the development of urethritis, so getting tested for these is also recommended.


[1] Healthline: Is Male Discharge Normal?

[2] Healthline: Urethritis

[3] WebMD: What is Mycoplasma Genitalium?

[4] CDC: Trichomoniasis

[5] Healthline: Everything You Should Know About UTIs in Men

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