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Yes, You Really Can Break That Part of Your Body

Yes, You Really Can Break That Part of Your Body: © Morgan David de Lossy/Corbis

© Morgan David de Lossy/Corbis

Most people are well aware of the fact that there aren’t any bones in the human penis. By contrast many animals do have a penis bone, technically known as a baculum. This includes dogs, gorillas, bears, raccoons, walruses and many other animal species. They range in size from a couple of millimeters to (impressively) a couple of feet (congrats), which some people collect and use for all kinds of purposes—from toothpicks to axe handles to war clubs—but that’s a story for another day.

Given the lack of bones in the human penis you might naturally assume that we wouldn’t have to worry about breaking them. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

Penis fractures are a very real thing, and something you definitely don’t want to experience. Ever.

Before we go on, a quick lesson in penile anatomy: Within the penis are two columns of erectile tissue known as the corpora cavernosa. These columns are surrounded by a layer of fibrous tissue known as the tunica albuginea.

A penile fracture is basically a rupturing of that outer fibrous layer. So how the hell does that happen?

A recent paper published in the journal Andrology offers some answers. In this article doctors reviewed the files of 39 male hospital patients with suspected penile fractures who visited Boston Medical Center over a 10-year period.

For most of these men — 82 percent — the injury occurred during sex. For instance, they may have been thrusting really hard and hit something that they weren’t intending to, such as their partner’s perineum (or, in Urban Dictionary parlance, the “taint” or “grundle.”)

However, it can also happen when a woman is on top during vaginal intercourse, such as in the cowgirl or reverse cowgirl positions. If his penis is bent the wrong way and she comes down on it with her full body weight, well, you can guess what happens next.

‘A direct blow to the penis’ can mean so many things.

Another 10 percent of these men injured themselves through a “direct blow to the penis.” Unfortunately, the authors of this study did not further elaborate on what they meant here, so I don’t know if that means these guys got punched in the junk, had something dropped on it or what. “A direct blow to the penis” can mean so many things.

The remaining 8 percent experienced a fracture as a result of “penis manipulation,” described as forcible bending of the penis in order to intentionally make an erection go away. Although rare in the U.S., this is actually the most common cause of penile fracture in Middle Eastern countries.

There are three distinct signs of a penis fracture (which, if you have a penis, will undoubtedly make you wince): a distinctive “cracking” sound, rapid loss of erection (or detumescence in medical terms), and a bruised appearance that occurs as the result of a hematoma (a collection of blood outside of the blood vessels).

You can see a clinical photo of a fractured penis in this case report from the New England Journal of Medicine—but be advised that it’s not safe for work and you will never be the same after viewing it.

Aside from significant pain, penile fractures are linked to a number of complications, including disfiguration, problems urinating and ejaculating and erectile dysfunction. As a result, penile fractures are considered to be a medical emergency.

Should you experience such a fracture, it is advisable to seek prompt treatment. Surgical repair is sometimes necessary, and medical treatment significantly reduces the odds of experiencing long-term complications.

The good news is that penis fractures are rare. It’s unlikely that you’re every going to experience one. However, if you’re concerned about it, there are some preventative measures you can take. This includes not putting too much bending pressure on your penis during sex or masturbation and also not thrusting like a piston at max speed (which, by the way, isn’t the key to female sexual pleasure and orgasm anyway).

Oh, and no matter how inopportune an erection might be, please, please don’t try breaking your penis in order to hide a chub.


Justin Lehmiller, PhD is a sex educator and researcher at Ball State University and author of the blog Sex and Psychology. Follow him on Twitter @JustinLehmiller.

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