Breaking Bad: Yes, You Can Fracture Your Penis
A fractured penis sounds like something men might joke about in a locker room or that mothers might mention to scare their teenage sons. But it’s real.
Since there’s no actual bone in a human penis, fracturing the organ isn’t quite like breaking a leg. That doesn’t make this type of injury any less serious or less painful, however. A penile fracture is a true medical emergency, and the man should immediately go to the nearest emergency department for an evaluation by a urologist. A penile fracture can have long-lasting effects on a man’s confidence, the appearance of his penis and even his ability to maintain an erection.
Anatomy of a penis fracture
Penile fractures aren’t common, though embarrassment might mean they go underreported.
A fractured penis usually occurs when a man is having overenthusiastic sex and a missed thrust slams his erect penis against his partner’s pelvis. It’s also possible to suffer a broken penis due to overly aggressive masturbation or from a practice called taqaandan, in which the penis is deliberately, forcefully bent to relax an erection.
When men sustain a penile fracture, many of them report hearing an audible cracking or popping sound, or at least feeling a sharp pain. The injury usually results in immediate loss of erection and severe discomfort, followed by swelling, bruising and deformity of the penis that make it resemble an eggplant.
OK, if there’s no actual bone, what’s going on in there?
What breaks in a broken penis?
The interior of the penis is made up of two large tubes called the corpus cavernosa that run alongside the urethra, which is surrounded by another tube, the corpus spongiosum. The corpus cavernosa fill with blood when a man is aroused, resulting in an erection.
The thin, stretchy sheath of skin surrounding these tubes is called the tunica albuginea, which is what allows the penis to grow in length and girth when a man gets an erection. It’s the tunica albuginea that breaks when a man suffers a fractured penis. It’s also possible, if the trauma is severe enough, that the corpus cavernosa beneath can be ruptured as well, or even the urethra itself, as occurs in up to 38 percent of cases.
Symptoms of a fractured penis include:
- A snapping or popping sound
- Rapid loss of erection
- Severe, immediate pain
- Dark bruising near the spot of the break
- A new bend in the penis
- Blood leakage
- Difficulty urinating
The risk factors
The most frequent cause of penile fracture is sexual intercourse gone awry.
While a broken penis can potentially occur in any position with a forceful, missed thrust, the most commonly reported occurrences in heterosexual couples are when the woman is on top, with rear-entry (doggy style) a distant second.
If a woman, while on top, brings her full weight down on the end of the penis and its entry into her vagina is momentarily blocked or off course, the erection can be forcefully bent and result in a fracture. The woman can also shift her body too far forward or backward, resulting in a break.
What to do for a penis fracture
Seek medical care for a fractured penis immediately. If left untreated for more than a day or two, a penile fracture can result in permanent damage and contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED) and other long-term problems, including a permanently bent penis.
A medical professional can usually diagnose a fractured penis with a physical exam but might order an ultrasound or MRI if the condition is uncertain.
Treatment for a penis fracture usually requires surgery to repair the tear in the tunica albuginea with stitches. During the repair, the surgeon will simultaneously examine the urethra with a flexible cystoscope, or telescopic camera, to rule out tears or damage. Following such a surgery, the man should avoid sex until cleared by his urologist.
While a penile fracture is uncommon, it likely occurs more often than reported. And though it’s treatable, it’s certainly something to be avoided. Be aware of the risk factors for penile fracture, and be sure to get medical attention immediately if you suspect you may have suffered one.