You're so vein(y), penis

Originally Published: June 6, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 6, 2010
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Dear Alice,

I have a question concerning veins on the penis. For a long time now, I have had a vein on my penis which is quite visible. The other day I noticed another vein on my penis that was becoming more noticeable. I know that there are no physical problems with having visible veins on my penis, but I don't like it. What has caused these veins to become more visible and how do I cover them up? I j/o frequently. I know this is a cosmetic problem, but it's an important problem to me. Thanks for your time.

Dear Reader,

Ah yes, penis veins. As you noted, they're completely normal and they may indeed change over time. The dorsal (top) side of the penis has a particularly large vein. Remember, these veins cause erections. Some people find them quite attractive and others do not. "Cosmetic" concerns are certainly a big deal when it comes to aspects of people's bodies that they would like to change. Still, it may be important to ask yourself why these veins bother you visually speaking and to note whether or not any of these veins are causing you any physical pain, as this could be indicative of something more serious. Several potential causes of more prominent veins making an appearance include:

  • Varicocele, a bag of worm-like veins around the testicles, could develop from poorly functioning valves in the testicles. Some men with varicocele also get prominent veins in their penises. A surgical procedure may correct this, but if you don't have the testicular cluster then this is probably not the cause.
  • Masturbation, if it causes irritation, may contribute to inflammation and vein-prominence. However, if you aren't experiencing general irritation or pain when masturbating, it seems unlikely that this would be a contributing factor.
  • Blood clots, especially in the legs, may contribute to increase in vein prominence. Have you noticed other veins becoming more prominent, especially in your neck? This could be an indicator of some forms of clots. Seeing your health care provider would be a good idea, but also, vein changes are part of normal human growth.
  • Certain surgeries, especially if they involved any blood vessels, could aggravate vein prominence. If you've had recent surgeries, consulting your health care provider could be beneficial.

In some cases, surgery may decrease vein visibility but they are not always advised, as they may sometimes have the opposite effect. Consulting with your health care provider may be helpful, as s/he can perform an ultrasound if necessary.

Some people may feel especially uncomfortable consulting with their health care providers about sensitive issues like their penises, but it may comfort you to know that providers are trained to handle whatever comes their way, such as men's sexual health issues. If you feel as though you won't be able to bring this up with your current provider, you could consider switching to someone with whom you feel more comfortable. If you are a Columbia student, you can make an appointment online via Open Communicator or by calling X2284.

If everything checks out, it may be helpful to explore why this feature concerns you. Veins on the penis are very common, so please know that your question was not submitted in vain.

Alice