Broken Penis Study Reveals Broken Vows

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Patients presenting a broken penis in emergency rooms prompted a recent study that looked at the sociological implications of a rare, but nevertheless true surgical/urologic emergency. Interviews of patients from one clinic revealed that in approximately 50% of the cases, the broken penis was the result of an extramarital affair.

Penis fractures are considered to be relatively rare, but authorities note that this condition may be underreported as patients may choose to not seek treatment out of embarrassment. From 1935 to 2001 there were 1,331 cases of penile fracture reported.

A broken penis is a severe bending back injury to an erect penis that results in a tearing of the tunica albuginea - a thin membrane that surrounds the corpora cavernosa. The corpora cavernosa is the spongy tissue part of a penis that fills with blood during an erection. Injury to the tunica albuginea is often associated with a popping sound as the membranes tear causing blood to leak away from the corpus cavernosa and resulting in immediate flaccidity and genital bruising with swelling.

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In a recent issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Andrew Kramer, a urologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center looked at 16 cases of penile fractures treated between 2004 and 2011. He reports that of the 16 patients with a broken penis, one half admitted to sustaining the injury during an extramarital affair. Furthermore, that only three of the injuries occurred in the bedroom, while the rest were in public areas such as cars, elevators, restrooms and at the workplace.

Sex outside of the bedroom runs the risk of rushed and awkward form and technique that not unlike lifting with your back instead of your legs, leads to undue strain and injury. Often, a penile fracture occurs from the position where the partner is on top. However, it can also occur with too vigorous thrusting or a forceful downward bending of the penis during aggressive intercourse or sudden coitus interruptus. According to Dr. Kramer, "All these factors could make the man less able to protect his penis from an unexpected sudden downward thrust leading to the fracture.”

Treatment for a broken penis requires surgical intervention. Typically treatment is done under general anesthesia while the penis is incised in the area of the tear followed by suturing. Sometimes the incision spans half the circumference of the penis and will require up to ten stiches. After the surgery is done, the patient goes home and recuperates for about one month taking medication to prevent erections from occurring during healing.

Not having surgery to repair the injury typically results in future complications with a buildup of scar tissue on the tunic albuginea, which can lead to erectile dysfunction and/or an exaggerated sideways curvature of the penis up to a 45 degree angle.

Source: Kramer, A. C. (2011), Penile Fracture Seems More Likely During Sex Under Stressful Situations. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02461.x

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