It’s true, you can break your penis. We find out how it happens, what one looks like and treatment options.

Fun fact: Did you know there are actually no bones in a man’s penis? So, what actually happens during a “full salute” is that blood rushes to fill the corpora cavernosa, a pair of “spongy cylinders” in the penis, causing it to harden and become engorged.

Bending an erect penis suddenly (or forcefully) can result in trauma to one or both of these tubes, resulting in a fracture. “Most of the time, the patient is having intercourse when he suddenly hears a snap or crackle followed by an almost immediate softening of the penis,” says Dr Joe Lee, National University Hospital’s consultant and director in Andrology & Male Reproductive Medicine.

In severe fractures, the urinary tract (called the urethra) may also be injured, causing blood to flow out from the opening of the penis. So, what actually causes penile fractures? Here are a few possible scenarios:

* Being overly enthusiastic when "doing the deed". “Aggressive penetration can cause the penis to slip out of the vagina during intercourse. When that happens, the head of the penis may ram against the outside of the vagina causing a fracture,” notes Dr Ho Siew Hong, a consultant urologist at Gleneagles Hospital.

* The woman-on-top sex position. “Especially when she throws her weight on a poorly positioned penis,” adds Dr Lee.

* Having intercourse on hard surfaces, such as near a table or on the floor.

“Most of the time, the patient is having intercourse when he suddenly hears a snap or crackle followed by an almost immediate softening of the penis.”

SmartParents speaks more about this bedroom injury to both Dr Lee and Dr Ho who offer advice on how to treat it…

What should one do if they suspect a penile fracture?

Dr Lee: Patients who suspect a penile fracture should first check for swelling or painful areas on the penis. If present, he should seek help at the hospital's emergency department. Icing the area can relieve pain and swelling, but that does not change the need for treatment.

How is the issue diagnosed and what are the treatment options?

Dr Ho: It is usually obvious upon clinical examination by a specialist. If in doubt, a penile ultrasound can be done to locate the site of the fracture. Almost all complete penile fractures will require surgical repair.

Are there any long-term effects if one chooses not to go for surgery?

Dr Lee: Erections can become permanently poorer after a fracture, leading to long-term erectile dysfunction. There can be permanent deformities and curvatures of the penis that may make subsequent intercourse very difficult or very painful.

Dr Ho: 20 per cent of penile fractures also involve the urethra. This will lead to urine leakage and infection.

How long will it take to recover after surgery?

Dr Ho: A complete fracture with surgical repair will fully recover within a month. In the meantime, sexual intercourse should be avoided although spontaneous erections cannot be avoided. Prevent infection with antibiotics, and take in sufficient nutrition to promote rapid healing and healthy recovery.

Dr Lee: Loose clothing should also be worn for greater comfort and cold packs can be placed around the penis to reduce post-operative swelling.

Photo: iStock

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