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Dear Dr. Joe, Can You Break Your Penis During Sex?

Wed, Sep 21, 2011

Advice, What's Up Doc?


photo via Flickr

Every few weeks, Dr. Joe DeOrio, a urologist in Chicago, tackles questions about male sexuality here on EMandLO.com. To ask Dr. Joe your own question, click here.

Dear Dr. Joe,

I’ve heard a penis can be broken during sex. How does it happen and what does it entail? And is it then broken forever, or can it be fully fixed?

– Ain’t Broke

Dear A.B.,

Snap! Yes, you’ve heard correctly –- the penis can indeed be broken during sex. It’s called a penile fracture. Now, despite common references to “the bone” or “the boner,” I think we all know that there is no bone within the penis itself. So then, what breaks? Some quick anatomy: the erectile portion of the penis consists of 3 essentially cylindrical structures –- 2 corpora cavernosa and 1 corpus spongiosum. The cavernosa lie along the sides of the penis, while the spongiosum is centered on the undersurface of the penis and includes the glans (head). If you look at the underside of an erect penis, you can see them distinctly.

During stimulation, blood rushes into the penis, saturating the expandable, sponge-like tissue within these corporal bodies, and they enlarge. The external lining of these bodies is known as the tunica albuginea, which is a strong connective tissue. When the penis is fully erect, this tissue is stretched taught, providing the rigidity needed for intercourse.

A penile fracture most commonly occurs during vigorous vaginal intercourse. During thrusting, the penis slips out of the vagina, and, on the male upstroke, the penis strikes the female pubic bone, causing buckling. Imagine bending a banana in half. Yes, ouch! This process causes a tear in the tunica albuginea. You can probably visualize how the banana peel might break. Patients often describe a “popping” sound, then pain, rapid loss of erection (big surprise!), and swelling of the penis. Swelling can occasionally be so profound that we see what’s described as the “eggplant deformity” –- and, yep, it means exactly what you think it means.

The good news? These injuries are usually pretty easy to repair, but you’ll need surgery –- and the sooner, the better. So go straight to the ER; don’t wait 3 days ‘cuz you’re embarrassed. If you wait too long, you’ll increase your risk for long-term penile curvature. I’ll spare you the operative details, but essentially the process is to locate the tear, and sew it closed. A good urologist will also examine the urethra, and repair it if necessary. You’ll need about a month to heal, but after that, most men are as good as new.

– Dr. Joe

Dr. Joe earned his undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. After attending the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, he completed his residency training in urological surgery at the Los Angeles County Medical Center. He lives and works in Chicago, IL. Keep an eye out for his upcoming blog at docjoe.net.

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2 Responses to “Dear Dr. Joe, Can You Break Your Penis During Sex?”

  1. Dave Says:

    Happened to me once but I don’t think it broke as described above…didn’t deform or need surgery.

    My girl was on top and being a little enthusiastic when there was indeed a “pop”.

    It hurt a little and was black and blue for a couple days but no major damage.

  2. famousde Says:

    Dr. Joe,
    very informative post. I’ve always heard that you cannot break it; however, early in high school, I had an injury on a band trip: short version, this girl – older classmate, started holding my hand and I became so hard, with tight pants on, something broke/popped. I had to be carried off the buss and just said I had stomach pain. The pain was excruciating. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone, including my parents, so I wasn’t examined or treated in anyway. I spent the next several years trying to gradually straighten my penis back to normal. It finally healed back to maybe 80%-90% straight. Unfortunately, my erect penis size since that accident has remained maybe 3/4 at most, what it was before. It may be even more like 1/2 but too long ago to really remember.


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