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1 January 2007
The Broken Penis
by Paul Aitken

Years ago, when I was a young man and National Lampoon was still funny; the magazine published a fold-out poster of a man in a ski lodge surrounded by a bevy of buxom ski bunnies. The man had a large cast on his penis and a larger smile on his face as the bunnies gathered to sign the cast. But in case any of you lonely snowboarders out there are thinking of slamming a door on your dick to effect a similar response, you may want to reconsider. For one thing, you don't get a cast. For another, it hurts like hell.

Penile fracture is rare (only 1,331 cases reported in 2001) but it does occur, probably more often than it's reported. You may wonder how this is possible given that the penis, even when it's erect, is little more than an inflated balloon - there's no bone inside. But as the saying goes, you either bend or you break, and the same principle applies to dicks. Sufficient rigidity and sufficient force are all it takes.

What "breaks" is the tunica albuginea, the tough fibrous tissue that sheaths the spongy corpus cavernosa. The tunica albuginea is normally strong and flexible. If it wasn't, Puppetry of the Penis would be more like the Hannibal Lecter show. But as the penis elongates during erection the sheath becomes stretched thin. It's still strong and it takes a considerable force to tear it but it's an inconvenient fact that the tunica albuginea is at its most vulnerable just when the penis is hard and capable of breaking.

In mild cases of penile fracture the tunica albuginea is the only penile component that's compromised. More often, the corpus cavernosa is ruptured as well. Given that the cavernosa at this point it suffused with blood, its rupture leads to the rapid outflow of blood into the surrounding tissue. Erection is lost immediately and the affected area becomes bruised and swollen - it's sometimes referred to as an "eggplant deformity," owing to the shape and discoloration. I've seen the pictures and it ain't pretty. No ski bunny is going to want to look at it, let alone sign it. In severe cases (approx. 10 percent), the urethra itself is ruptured and blood can flow out of the urethral opening. That's pretty bad but luckily that's about as bad as things get. In none of the reported cases was the outer skin torn. Your penis may break but it's not going to break off.

Not surprisingly, the highest incidence (33 percent) of penile fractures occurs during sex. The main culprit seems to be the woman-on-top position and it's easy to see why. When she's doing the ol' urban cowboy on you, things can slip out. The stats didn't breakdown into which way the woman was facing but given the underlying physics it probably doesn't matter. It's gravity times mass coming down on your upright dick; and as the song goes, "when an irresistible force meets an immovable object... something's gotta give."

Of course, if one-third of fractures occur during sex, that means two-thirds don't, and given that a penis can only break when it's erect, you gotta ponder at the kind of misadventures some guys get into. Reports include turning over in bed (yeah, right), falling while putting on clothes and excessive force used to conceal an erection. The latter is responsible for most of the penile fractures reported in the Middle East where men live in crowded conditions and wear loose clothes that are inclined to "tent."

Other stated causes include industrial accidents, gunshot wounds, sex-play (as opposed to intercourse) and well... you name it. If you can imagine it, it's probably been done. One reported incident occurred in a corral with a 36 year old ranch-hand. A horse was apparently involved. Enough said about that.

So, let's say your partner and you are playing bucking bronco. She gets thrown and comes down hard. What happens next? According to most accounts the first indication that something has gone wrong is an audible cracking sound. That's right, folks, you can actually hear your penis snap. The second thing you'll hear is a high pitched screaming sound coming from your mouth. The pain is described as - take your pick - intense, acute, severe, extreme. Seems breaking one's penis is every bit as painful as most of us imagine it would be.

Okay, so your girlfriend is crying, you're still screaming and your once mighty dick is hanging like a ripe plum. What do you do about it? Well what you shouldn't do is pop half-a-dozen painkillers and sleep on it. A broken dick is considered a medical emergency. Go to the hospital. If it isn't a full moon on a Saturday night you'll likely be seen to fairly promptly. The first order of business will likely be a cavernosography to determine the extent of the damage. Your dick will be injected with contrast dye and x-rayed. If there is significant leakage it means your corpus cavernosa has been ruptured and you could be facing surgery.

As a treatment for penile fracture, surgical intervention is relatively new. Historically, the treatment of choice for penile fractures consisted of cold compresses, pressure dressings and splinting, coupled with the requisite analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications. Prior to the 1980s this was pretty much what you got. But the complication rates for non-surgical therapies were very high (up to 53 percent). Typically, this involved penile abscess, plaque formation, painful erections, significant penile curvature and in some cases, complete erectile dysfunction.

In the bad old days when your dick broke, chances are it stayed broke. With surgery, however, the complication rate is less than 4 percent and this figure includes those cases of delayed presentation (after 48 hours) where guys were too embarrassed to check-in until their dick was well and truly fucked-up. The idea of someone slicing into your swollen prick is almost as wincing as the idea of the fracture itself but in the literature at least, direct surgical intervention is recommended by the vast majority of authors.

All-in-all the prognosis is better than it might seem. You may not get to wear a cast but you do get to have sex again. And with a dick that doesn't look like the letter "J." So with that in mind, lie back, throw caution to the wind and let your girlfriend practice her rodeo skills. You only live once.

Related Websites:
Med Help - The Penis




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