Skip to chat with us. Skip to content

See all > Sexual health

Male patient speaking to a male doctor about sexual health.

September 28, 2020 • read

Share this article

Signs a man’s sexual health needs a checkup

There’s a narrative around men’s health that needs to be debunked. Stereotypes leave some men feeling that sexual health issues are a sign of weakness. 

One study found that 20% of the men surveyed were at times dishonest with their doctor about their sexual health symptoms because of embarrassment. You might feel nervous, but your doctor is there to help. 

If you’re not sure what symptoms warrant scheduling a checkup, here are a few signs that it’s time to see a doctor.

Trouble getting an erection

Erectile dysfunction is when you’re unable to maintain an erection firm enough to have sex. It can be a tough issue to discuss with your doctor. One study found that 49% of Canadian men aged 40-88 have erectile dysfunction. That’s three million people across the country. 

Factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction include:

  • Conditions that affect circulation, like diabetes or heart trouble, can result in damaged blood vessels and restricted blood flow to your penis.
  • Anxiety about maintaining your erection.
  • Obesity.
  • Drug and alcohol use.
  • Hormone imbalance, like low testosterone.

Treatment for erectile dysfunction varies depending on why it’s happening in the first place. Options range from medication, to surgery, to lifestyle changes and psychotherapy. Talking to your doctor will help narrow down the best course of action for you.

Urination troubles

Issues like pain while peeing or an unsteady stream can be signs that you need a sexual health checkup. You may have an infection. Infections can cause swelling in the urinary tract or in the prostate, both of which make urination painful or irregular. They can be on-and-off at first, and often worsen without intervention.

Common conditions that cause trouble with urination include:

  • Prostatitis, which is an inflammation of the prostate gland caused by an infection. Your prostate gland is located near your bladder, and when it’s swollen it can cause pain while peeing. 
  • UTIs, or urinary tract infections, are often caused by bacterial infection. Your kidneys, bladder, and urethra are all part of your urinary tract. When they swell, especially your urethra, urine can have difficulty escaping. When urine does pass, there may be a burning sensation. 
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) also contribute to difficulty urinating. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes all cause pain or altered flow.

If you notice changes in your ability to urinate, take note of them. Share the changes with your doctor if they persist or worsen over time. Your doctor may suggest hygiene adjustments, tests, or medications to get things back on track.


It’s possible to feel itchy on the outside of the penis or to experience itching internally, near the opening of the penis. Infection, skin conditions, and restrictive clothing could all be culprits. Some common reasons for experiencing itchy genitals are:

  • Sexually transmitted infections. If you have an STI, you may also notice swelling or discharge from your penis accompanied by itchiness. 
  • Psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that causes red, itchy patches all over the body, including the tip and shaft of the penis.
  • Allergies. Soaps or scented clothing detergents may contain chemical irritants that cause an itchy allergic reaction.
  • Eczema, a skin condition that causes itchy, flaky patches of skin to appear all over the body.
  • Balanitis, a condition that causes itching, redness, pain, and swelling at the tip of the penis. This more commonly affects uncircumcised men. 
  • Yeast infections, caused by a bacteria on the skin called candida. Candida can overproduce, especially in moist conditions, causing an infection. It can then lead to balanitis if left untreated.

Since the itch you’re experiencing could be caused by anything from STIs to a new laundry soap, check in with your doctor. They’ll help you narrow down the cause.


Everyone’s genitals have a natural scent. But if you notice a foul or unusual smell coming from your privates more than once in a while, consider checking in with a doctor. If you’re uncircumcised, penile odour is often caused by a buildup of smegma. Smegma is a naturally occurring lubricant under the foreskin that can build up without thorough washing. When a buildup happens, white smelly chunks of smegma begin to collect. Yeast infections, UTIs, and balanitis are also common causes of penile odour. With some information about your lifestyle habits, your doctor can help you find out the cause of the smell.

When it comes to the health of your genitals, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Your doctor is a professional, so your symptoms won’t be a surprise. If anything, they’re likely to tell you that you should have booked an appointment with them sooner! 

If you’re experiencing unpleasant sexual health symptoms, don’t feel like you need to handle them on your own. See a doctor from the comfort of your home to get advice and treatment.

See a doctor online

Get started
General health
What to Expect When Seeking Virtual Mental Health Services

Read more
General health
What to Expect When using Virtual Care to See a Dermatologist

Read more
General health
What to Expect When Seeing a Naturopath Virtually

Read more