Yes it’s not just an urban legend-you really can break your penis! But since there aren’t any actual bones in your boner, it’s not quite the same injury as, say, fracturing your arm.
The condition is known as a penile fracture, and it occurs when your erected penis sustains some kind of force.
First, a refresher on what makes up your erection: Your penis consists of three cylindrical tubes. The two larger tubes are called the corporeal bodies—think of them as “balloons”—that fill up with blood when you become hard.
The “skin” of these balloons is the tunica albuginea, a tissue that expands both length- and width-wise during an erection.
The third, smaller tube—located on the underside of your penis—is your urethra, from which you urinate.
When you get aroused, blood rushes into those two larger tubes, and the pressure grows. That makes your penis rigid and hard to bend.
Common causes of penile fracture include:
- Forceful bending of the penis during vaginal intercourse.
- A sharp blow to the erect penis during a fall, car accident, or other mishap.
- Traumatic masturbation.
Men in certain Middle Eastern cultures practice taqaandan, or penile cracking. This involves grasping the shaft of the erect penis and bending the top until you hear an audible clicking sound. Men do this for a variety of reasons, such as:
Deflating an unwanted erection.
Attempting to enlarge or straighten their penis out of habit, like cracking your knuckles.
Penile fractures happen only when you have an erection. Although penis fracture can result from injury during any position in sexual intercourse, certain practices increase the odds.
In heterosexual men, the woman-on-top position increases your risk. When the penis is momentarily blocked at the entrance to the vagina, the woman’s full weight can forcefully bend the erection. The woman may also rock too far forward or backward, bending the shaft of the penis. The rear-entry position is also associated with penile injuries.
If you’ve fractured your penis, you’ll usually know immediately. One of the most telling symptoms is a cracking or popping sound—that’s actually the tissue tearing.
Loss of your erection right away. Then comes swelling, black-and-blue bruising, and, of course, pain.
If the injury also affects your urethra, you might notice blood when you urinate. This means your urethra has ripped.
While it might be embarrassing to hit the emergency room with your penis problem, that’s exactly what you need to do.
The doctors at the ER can confirm your penile fracture through a clinical exam and also by tests like an urethrogram, an MRI scan, or a cavernosogram, which is an X-ray of the penis, a penile ultrasound.
Occasionally, you may need a cystoscopy—a procedure in which a hollow tube equipped with a lens can look directly inside your urethra—to determine whether it’s actually torn.
You’ll usually require surgery to repair the tear within 3 days of the injury. This isn’t a wait-and-see condition—if you put it off too long, you can raise your risk of complications down the line.
“It becomes much more difficult to repair it, and scarring can start to form,” which can lead to a curve in your penis when you get an erection, or you might find yourself unable to even get hard in the first place resulting in erectile dysfunction (ED).
If you see a doc in a timely fashion and get the surgery within 72 hours of the injury, your prognosis is pretty good. You should even be able to have sex again about 4 to 6 weeks post-op.
To avoid penile injuries, make sure there is adequate lubrication during intercourse and be careful during vigorous or “hard” penetrative intercourse. Also, avoid trying to force your erect penis into tight underwear or rolling over on an erection in bed. Any sudden force exerted on an erect penis could cause injury, major or minor.
Written by Precious Nnabuike.