[Question #2998] White discharge.

39 months ago
I recently had unprotected sex with a new partner about a week ago. I don't necessarily have any specific reason to suspect an STD other than I don't know the person that well yet. That said, I have been paying extra attention to my penis over the last couple days just to stay aware in case something shows up. 

Well I have noticed something and do not know whether it is cause for concern or not: 

The last couple mornings I have been able to produce a tiny amount of opaque white discharge if I squeeze from the very base of my penis and milk it upward (think getting the last of the toothpaste from the tube.) It is a very very small amount and only shows up if I squeeze from the very base. I do masturbate daily, so I am not sure whether to assume this is perhaps residual semen, or an early sign of an infection. It seems a bit thicker and whither than semen, but like I said there is so little that I can't tell much about it. That and I've never tried this kind of examination any other time so I don't know if it is consistent with what is normally found in my urethra on  a given day.

Can you provide some insight?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
39 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

I'm quite certain you're just looking too closely. Vigorous "milking" of the penis for discharge can dislodge scant amount of mucus and urethral lining cells, which could have a white appearance. Residual semen or pre-ejaculate fluid (e.g. after normal nocturnal erections) also are possible. Without spontaneous discharge -- or easy expression of discharge without working hard at it -- it is unlikely you have urethritis. Also, clear or white secretions are less concerning than would be colored (yellow, creamy). Most urethral STDs also cause at least a small amount of discomfort when urinating, and sometimes overt pain. Absence of pain, discomfort, or tingling when urinating is additional evidence you aren't infected.

Having said that, the only way to be completely confident would be to be tested, especially for gonorrhea and chlamydia (which requires a urine specimen). And perhaps examination by a knowledgeable professional, ideally at a time when you haven't urinated or ejaculated for several hours. But this decision probably should be based more on your partner and her sexual lifestyle in the months prior to your sexual contact with her.

I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD
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39 months ago
Thank you for the reply. I have read that specifically chlamydia can be symptomless so I figured signs of discharge could run the entire spectrum between nonexistent and very obvious. 

On a related note, most sources indicate that chlamydia can show up "within 1 to 3 weeks after exposure." I am just curious: Does this mean it usually becomes noticeable between week 1 and 3, implying a one week incubation period? Or are you just as likely to see symptoms within week 1 itself?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
39 months ago
Urethral gonorrhea and chlamydia both can be asymptomatic -- very rarely for gonorrhea, not so rare for chlamydia. And it is true that discharge could indeed "run the entire spectrum" of severity. This is exactly why I suggested testing as the only way to know for sure. But for the reasons noted above, I doubt you have either one.

The 1-3 week figure is for incubation period, i.e. onset of symptoms. Testing probably picks up all infections within 2-3 days of exposure for gonorrhea and 4-5 days for chlamydia.

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39 months ago
Thank you, Doc!