Penile Varicose Veins: What They Are and How You Get Them

Updated on: February 16, 2017

Varicose veins anywhere on the body can be an ugly discovery. In rare cases, some individuals may develop small varicose veins on the penis. This is more obvious on the erect penis. In some cases, the varicose vein may be seen when the penis is flaccid. The vein may feel lumpy, but is usually not tender.

The vein is generally engorged with blood and thickens with time. A corresponding condition seen in the female is called Mondor's disease — which is a thick varicose vein seen on the breast. If you think you might have penile varicose veins, here's what you need to know.

Causes of Penile Varicose Veins

The cause of varicose veins on the penis is unknown, but it is most likely related to a small blood clot in one of the superficial veins of the penis. This leads to thickening of the vein and eventual fibrosis. The condition is not related to masturbation or sexual activity. In some cases, direct trauma to the penis may be a cause of injury to the superficial veins.


The diagnosis of a varicose vein on the penis is difficult because there is another condition that mimics it. This unrelated condition, known as lymphangiosclerosis, is due to thickening of a lymphatic vessel. It also feels hard and lumpy. It is not blue in color but white. It can be seen while the penis is either erect or flaccid.

The penile varicose vein is most likely the vein on top (the dorsal penile vein). This vein is sometimes ligated in men with erection problems. A urologist would typically examine the area and then he/she would recommend an ultrasound to find out if the vein is problematic. Based on information gathered in the exam and ultrasound, your doctor would then tell you whether or not additional treatment is necessary.

Treatment options

In either case, use of lubricants is recommended during masturbation or during sexual intercourse to avoid bruising the vein. The condition has no adverse health effects, and it does not typically require any treatment.

It is still best to have a urologist and/or vein specialist examine the vein to determine if further treatment is necessary. There are no creams, ointments or herbs to treat the penile varicose veins but depending on their location and size, sclerotherapy or laser treatments might be appropriate.

Reviewed February 9, 2017

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