Irritation Situation

When I have sex with my girlfriend I always have small sores the next day on my penis. We’re both free of any STD. Could the skin on my penis be reacting to her vagina? I’ve never had this problem with other girls. She uses NuvaRing for birth control, could that be the cause of anything? – Sore Penis

The only way to know the real cause of this is by consulting a doctor, so I recommend going to a walk-in clinic, preferably the next time the sores are present. I’ll try to give you some ideas of what might be going on, but please don’t let what I say substitute for a visit to the doctor.

If you have sensitive skin, then her vaginal fluids could be irritating the skin on your penis. However, if this has never been an issue for you before and your skin doesn’t typically irritate easily I would be surprised if this were the case.

There’s also an easy way to test this, which you should already be doing. After having sex, you should always clean your penis and remove any residue of fluids. If you’re uncircumcised, take care to pull back the skin and clean well.

If your girlfriend keeps her ring in during sex, it’s possible that contact with it is irritating you. This would probably show sooner than the next day though, and you’d probably feel this during sex.

If this is the case and it bothers you, it might help to know that the ring can be removed for sex for up to three hours in a day—just don’t exceed this time period. However, it’s unlikely that this is a reaction to the contents of the ring, as it only releases a low dose of slow-acting hormones.  

Another possibility is irritation from friction. If there is a lot of friction during sex, it can cause blisters or irritations the same way rubbing anything against the same spot of skin would do so. More foreplay to make sure your girlfriend is naturally lubricated enough during penetration or adding some lube to the mix could help with this.

Although you said that you are free of sexually transmitted infections, consider that a lot of tests don’t check for every possible STI—for many clinics, getting tested for “everything” isn’t actually everything.

Ask the clinic to list the things you’re being tested for and take the opportunity to ask for the ones missing from that list. Generally for men there should be blood drawn, a urine sample or a swab sample taken from the urethra and a visual examination of the genitals.

I would suggest both you and your girlfriend get checked for yeast infections. Standard STI testing doesn’t always check for it unless one of you is presenting with symptoms, which can come and go.

Some men experience bumps, irritation and sores as symptoms when they have a yeast infection. Making sure both partners are tested for it will prevent it from getting passed back and forth in the event that you’re having unprotected sex.

While some possible causes mentioned here wouldn’t require treatment, I can’t stress enough how important it is to see a health professional in your situation. You can do this at the Concordia Health Services clinic without an appointment weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or you can dial 811 from any Quebec phone number to reach Info-Santé and find a walk-in clinic nearby.

—Melissa Fuller, @mel_full

Submit your question anonymously at and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook. Got a quick health question? Just need a resource? Text SextEd at 514-700-0445 for a confidential answer within 24 hours!

Power Theatre »

« Making Room for the Bassoon