The human body is an enormously complex system, and sometimes problems that come up in one part of the body may be symptoms of something that affects more parts of the body. For this reason, sometimes a penis health issue may signal an issue that goes beyond the penis. For example, sometimes penis pain can be a localized issue and sometimes it can be part of a larger problem. One such problem could in some cases by a condition known as schistosomiasis.

What’s that name again?

Most people have never heard of schistosomiasis, which also goes by the slightly easier to pronounce name of bilharzia. It is caused by a nasty parasitic worm called a schistosome, whose host of choice is unfortunately the human, although they will feed on other hosts as well - especially snails.

The effects of schistosomiasis can vary widely from person to person. Some people are symptom-free and never know that they have the disease. In others, however, the disease can range from mild to extremely serious and sometimes fatal.

Schistosomiasis tends to be found in more tropical parts of the world and is fairly rare in Europe and the United States. However, it is very common elsewhere in the world, with some 200 million people affected.

How does a person get it?

Basically, a person can get schistosomiasis if they swim, wade, bathe, or drink from a body of fresh water that is infected. The water usually gets the parasites when an infected person urinates or defecates in it. This deposits schistosome eggs into the water, which hatch and then make their way into snails, if they are present. There they develop into the adolescent parasite form and leave the snail in search of a human host. (They have approximately 48 hours after leaving the snail to find that host or else they will die.)

Once inside a human host, they develop over a period of weeks into their adult form and live within the body’s blood vessels. When they lay eggs, some end up in the bladder or the intestines.

As mentioned, many people with schistosomiasis have no symptoms at all. Some with an acute form may develop rashes (which may be on the penis), itchiness, and bumps. Sometimes a fever, fatigue, headache, joint pain, and other symptoms may occur.

People with a chronic case may have much more severe symptoms, with significant gastrointestinal problems (including potential liver scarring), enlarged spleen, high blood pressure, bleeding in the esophagus, pulmonary hypertension, and urinary tract infections. It is this last named that causes the possible penis pain, which in some cases can be severe, as well as kidney damage. It is not unusual for a man with a chronic case to also experience blood in his urine, in addition to penis pain.

Treatment

Praziquantel, which is used to treat a number of parasitic worms, is usually recommended for treatment of schistosomiasis. Corticosteroids may also be employed, depending on the type and severity of schistosomiasis diagnosed.

It is much better to try to prevent acquisition of these parasitic worms, so anyone traveling to an area in which the condition is endemic should avoid swimming in lakes, ponds, and rivers. Drinking bottled water is also advised.

Schistosomiasis is only one potential cause of penis pain. Often, penis pain can be alleviated by regular use of a first-rate penis health oil (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin), especially when the pain is due to overuse or rawness of the penis. In such cases, an oil with a combination of hydrators, such as shea butter and vitamin E, can provide much-needed and soothing moisturization. The selected oil should ideally also include vitamin D, the so-called "miracle vitamin," which has proven benefits in fighting diseases and supporting healthy cellular function.