STD Resource Center

Everything You Need To Know About STDS

A swollen penis may or may not be an STD--you need to get tested

  • std
  • swelling
  • swollen
  • stomach ache


"I have been having protected sex with a woman that I don’t know very well. I am stressed and anxious that might have an STD. My stomach is upset and my penis is a little swollen, but there is no pain. Are these symptoms of an STD, or of stress and anxiety?"

- Anonymous


Stomachaches could be related to anxiety. While there are non-STD related reasons for experiencing stomachaches and swelling of the penis or testicles, they are also symptoms that are related to certain STDs.

STD Related 

Even when a condom is used during sex, there is a risk of STD transmission and infection. The best defense against sexually transmitted diseases is to get tested before having sex with a new partner. When both partners are tested before a sexual relationship is initiated, any existing infection can be addressed and remedied, and the unintentional spread of disease can be avoided.

Three main STDs could be linked to stomachaches and swelling of the penis or testicles. They are Hepatitis (A, B, & C), Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.

Hepatitis A, B, & C

Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are all contagious viral STDs that cause inflammation of the liver. Signs and symptoms will occur several weeks after exposure, and the most prominent sign is abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of the liver (right side beneath the lower ribs). 

Other common symptoms of Hepatitis are:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort (especially where the liver is located)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dark Urine
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)

It is vital to identify Hepatitis and any other STD early on to avoid serious damage to the liver and other medical complications. If a Hepatitis infection is not managed or treated early, it could lead to liver failure, the need for a liver transplant, and liver cancer. (source: Mayo Clinc)

Early diagnosis is paramount to proper treatment and containment of any STD. 

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Chlamydia is a bacterial disease that is often difficult to detect because it commonly exists in the body with very few or no symptoms. If symptoms do manifest, they will typically do so around three weeks after initial exposure/infection and can be easily misdiagnosed or overlooked as another less serious medical condition. Because chlamydia attacks the urethra and reproductive organs it can cause inflammation and swelling of the penis. Lower abdominal pain is also one of the main symptoms of a chlamydia infection. Anyone experiencing abdominal discomfort in tandem with a swollen penis after having sex with someone whose medical and sexual history they are not familiar with is advised to get tested for Chlamydia as quickly as possible.

Other common signs of chlamydia are:

  • Painful urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding between menstrual cycles (women)
  • Testicular pain (men)

If left untreated, chlamydia can cause severe medical complications and irreparable damage to the internal organs. 

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Gonorrhea is another bacterial STD that is, the majority of the time, asymptomatic (meaning no obvious or physical signs of infection) and can cause severe damage to the internal organs and tissues if not caught soon enough. If a gonorrhea infection is symptomatic, symptoms will present themselves within ten days after exposure, but in some cases, they do not show themselves for months. Gonorrhea attacks the genitals and urogenital but can also infect the mouth, throat, eyes, rectum, and anus. A swollen and inflamed penis, testicles and lymph nodes in the groin area are a leading sign of having gonorrhea. In some cases gonorrhea can spread to the joints of the arms and legs, causing swelling and pain. 

Other Common Signs of Gonorrhea:

Thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the penis or vagina

  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding or unusual bleeding between cycles
  • Painful or bloody bowel movements
  • Anal itching

It is common for someone who is infected with gonorrhea also to have a chlamydia infection. Being tested for both gonorrhea and chlamydia is advised. Both Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are easily treated with antibiotics. However, the rate of recurrence (meaning the infection comes back even after being treated) is very high. Therefore, both partners should be tested and treated at the same time to avoid passing the disease back and forth. Follow the treatment and medication instructions and abstain from sex until the treatment and waiting period are complete. Follow up testing is recommended two weeks to 3 months after treatment is completed to ensure the infection(s) have been fully eradicated from the body.

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Non-STD Causes

There are a few non-STD causes for stomachache and a swollen penis. They are, stress/anxiety, balanitis, injury, cancer, and allergies.


Stress can affect individuals in a variety of ways that is unique to the individual’s constitution, biological makeup as well as situational factors. Working to reduce or eliminate stress is a healthy measure regardless of STD status. However, stress reduction is a proven factor in successful treatment, control, and management of an STD infection as well as other illness. 

Taking charge of your sexual health is instrumental in reducing anxiety by providing answers. While stress and anxiety could be all there is to having an upset stomach, ultimately, the only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested.

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Balanitis is a fairly common condition affecting approximately 1 in 25 males. It is most common in young boys but can happen at any age. Balanitis is caused by infections or chronic skin conditions, which leads to swelling of the foreskin, or head of the penis. This condition is caused by an overgrowth of either bacteria or yeast from inadequate hygiene, certain pre-existing skin conditions (such as lichen planus, eczema, and psoriasis) or the products used (scented soaps, lotions or sprays). In some cases, balanitis has been linked to skin cancer. 

Balanitis can result in pain and soreness of the penis and, in some cases, makes it difficult to pull back the foreskin (in uncircumcised patients). Other symptoms could include redness, thick or lumpy discharge, unpleasant smell, and painful urination.

Balanitis is typically easy to treat with an antibiotic or antifungal. However, it is important to know that balanitis can also be a side effect of an STD condition such as herpes, chlamydia, and syphilis.

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Injuries/Fractured Penis

The penis is a sensitive area of the body that can become injured like any other body part. An injury can occur during sexual intercourse or other daily activities, leaving scratches, bites, internal injuries, bruises, sprains, and fracture. (source)


The first sign of penile cancer is a change in the skin of the penis. Contact a doctor for further testing if, in addition to swelling, you experience any of the following symptoms: the skin of the penis becoming thicker and changing color, a reddish rash, crusty bumps, bluish-brown growths, and smelly discharge under the foreskin. 

Latex Sensitivity/Allergies

Men who are allergic to latex (latex condoms) may experience itching, burning, soreness or swelling of the penis and surrounding area. There are alternatives to latex condoms. Click here to read the STDAware blog on latex alternatives.

If signs of irritation persist after 1-2 weeks with no contact with latex or other suspected irritant, further testing should be considered. Many skin disorders and STDs have symptoms that imitate an allergic reaction.

STDAware provides a no-cost resource center for information about different STDs. Click here to explore the STDAware Resource Center.


The signs and symptoms of STDs can vary by individual, and while there are several unique symptoms specific to each type of STD, many STDs can be asymptomatic and consequently, unknowingly passed from one person to the next.

A stomachache and swelling of the penis could be the result of several non-STD related issues, but experiencing these symptoms after having sex with a stranger could be indicative of an STD infection or other medical problems. The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested. 

Early detection and treatment are crucial to reducing the spread of STDs. Medical experts recommend that any sexually active individual, who is not in the long term, mutually monogamous relationship, should be tested for STDs when there is a change in sexual partner(s) or habits. Any sexual partners should be tested at the same time to ensure both parties are disease free or under proper management protocol before having sex. Taking charge of your sexual health is a vital factor in ensuring one’s overall health and well-being.

Many individuals who test positive for having one type of STD are also positive for having one or more additional STDs. And individuals who have or have had one or more STDs are at an increased risk of contracting HIV (the deadly autoimmune disease that leads to AIDS).

STDAware offers full panel and individual testing options. To learn more about how to get tested at STDAware, click here.

Advise counselors at STDAware are available to speak with you about your testing and treatment options.

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