Is a penile fracture possible?
Photo by Leandro Verolli
“Can my penis be broken or bent?”
“Is it normal for my penis to make a crack sound?”
“Does my penis have a bone in it?”
Table of Contents:
There are many myths surrounding the penis, and one of the most common is that it can’t be “broken”. However, the fact is that ERECTED penises can be “broken” which may feel similar to a fracture, and can cause extreme pain. This is known as a penile fracture. While there is no bone in the penis, the blood flowing in the arteries of the penis is what makes it firm and erect. When a fracture disrupts an important function such as that, it can cause serious health consequences and medical attention is needed immediately. Let’s read on to find out more about penile fracture - causes, symptoms, and treatments.
What is a penile fracture?
The penis consists of two cylinders of sponge-like tissue called the corpus cavernosa, which when erected, will be where most if not all the blood in your penis goes. Protecting the corpus cavernosa is a layer called tunica albuginea. When it comes in contact with a heavy impact, these cylinders will snap, causing your tunica albuginea to be torn open and resulting in a penile fracture. In layman’s terms, a penile fracture is when your erected penis is forced to bend suddenly. When this happens, it can also cause harm to your urethra, a channel in your penis that urine flows through.
This painful injury usually occurs in the lower two-thirds of the penis and can cause it to turn purple or swollen, taking on an “eggplant deformity” according to doctors. To answer the unspoken question in your head, what about a flaccid penis? Can it be “broken”? Well, the good news is that a flaccid penis can’t be “broken” since not enough blood is being pumped into the penis to make it stiff or enlarged. However, there is STILL a chance of it happening during unforeseen circumstances such as car accidents, gunshot wounds, sports, and many more.
Causes of a penile fracture
It seems like the most common cause of penile fracture happens during sexual intercourse. During this activity, partners need not necessarily be having rough sex for a fracture to happen. This injury can occur either when the penis slips out and thrusts against their partner’s bone, or through forced bending of the penis during vaginal intercourse. Though sexual intercourse may be the most common cause, the penile fracture can also occur in a variety of different situations, such as:
Rolling or falling over onto an erect penis
Bumping or hitting an erect penis on something
On top of all those, be it flaccid or erected, it is advised to not place a stiff constricting object around the penis or any objects into the tip of the penis. By placing a constricting object around the penis, it might cause an opportunity for it to be trapped around the penis when the swelling starts.
Symptoms of a penile fracture:
How do you know if you have a penile fracture? The following symptoms stated will be observed right after it has happened:
Immediate pain in the penis that varies from minimal to intense
Distinct popping or snapping sound when it is fractured
Instant loss of erection
Discolouration of penis
Swelling of penis or scrotum
Bleeding at the tip of the penis or in the urine (A sign of a seriously injured urethra!)
If any of the above symptoms sound relatable, and you suspect you’ve suffered a penile fracture, do seek out medical attention straight away. Penile fracture is a serious injury that cannot get better on its own, and it is NOT to be dismissed. Without immediate medical help, it has the potential to affect your sexual and urinary function permanently.
Diagnosis and Treatment to help your injury:
When seeking medical help, it is common for your doctor to perform a physical examination, ask about your medical history and how did the fracture occur, as well as request blood and urine tests to be done. Using a special X-ray method called retrograde urethrography or cavernosography, a special dye will be injected through your urethra into the blood vessels of the penis before taking the X-rays. This process is necessary as the X-ray results will allow your doctor to study if and where the dye has leaked outside your urethra. To further detect any other abnormalities while locating the exact area where your penis was damaged, an ultrasound or MRI will be done.
After locating the exact area or areas where your penis was damaged, you will most likely have to undergo surgery to stitch together the “broken” cylinder(s) of your penis. To allow your penis to heal, a thin tube called the catheter may be placed through the urethra into the bladder so that urine can be emptied.
Don't expect to have sex during your recovery journey
There has been over a 90% success rate for surgery cases on penile fractures that were able to heal without problems if treated promptly. However, there is still the remaining small percentage of men that may experience side effects after the surgery, this includes erectile dysfunction, penile deformity, experiencing painful erections (priapism), and infections. Moreover, those who received delayed medical treatment may face a greater long-term risk such as problems with urinating, getting or keeping an erection, the penis remaining bent, and scar tissue forming.
The recovery journey defers for everyone, as it is heavily determined by the seriousness of the injury. After the procedure, you might either be asked to stay in the hospital for a few days or allowed to go home to monitor your healing progress. To further assist you with that, medications and antibiotics will be prescribed to you, as well as advice to abstain from any sexual activity for at least 4 to 6 weeks - and possibly longer, if complications or healing difficulties were to arise.
But, if you think that you are having a difficult time avoiding an erection during the recovery period, your doctor may prescribe additional medications that can help reduce the likelihood of an erection. Lastly, follow-ups after your surgery are necessary for your doctor to check on your healing progress, examine the veins and arteries in your penis, and assess the blood flow.
How to avoid penile fracture?
To avoid a penile fracture, make sure that you and your partner(s) practice precautions during vigorous intercourse. Additionally, refrain from stuffing your erected penis into tight underwear, as well as accidentally hitting or rolling over it. Understand that as long as any sudden force is being exerted on an ERECTED penis, it could cause serious health consequences.
It’s extremely important to go to your local emergency services and seek medical attention immediately if you think that your penis is fractured. Recovery results are significantly better when the injury is treated promptly - preferably within 24 hours from the fracture!
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