It was an injury that got famous on the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy (Scientific American), but the truth is that this condition isn’t uncommon. There are no bones in the penis, so how can it break? A “penile fracture” can occur during sexual intercourse when a membrane called the tunica albuginea rips. This membrane envelops the corpora cavernosa. This is the soft, porous substance that becomes engorged with blood when an erection occurs. If the tunica albuginea rips, blood fills other areas causing swelling and bruising to occur. When a penile fracture occurs, generally it is announced by an unusual popping sound. If great pain occurs followed by swelling, bruising and erection loss, seek out your healthcare service provider.
Generally it happens during regular vaginal intercourse with the woman on top. The man slips out and she comes crashing down upon it, crunching it into the perineum or the area between the vagina and anus. It can occur when aerobatic, dangerous, or risky behavior is incorporated into missionary position as well. Fixing the tear may require surgery. General anesthesia is given and one or more incisions may be performed. The torn area is found and then sewn up with sutures. For a severe tear, up to ten stitches covering the circumference of the penis may be required. Normally tears run clockwise. This is often same day surgery. Sexual intercourse can be resumed once the wound heals. It generally takes about one month.
Without surgery complications can occur. Whether the tunica albuginea is partially torn or ripped completely, internal scarring may occur. Scar tissue buildup can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) or a curvature of the penis that is unhealthy. This is when an erection goes sideways. Some have even been seen to go at a 45 degree angle. Urology department chair at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, Dr. Hunter Wessels, says that when he worked at Harborview Medical Center in the Emerald City he would encounter one or two cases every month. Guys in their 20’s and 30’s are at the highest risk as they take part in far more vigorous sexual activity. Older men in their 40’s and 50’s have sex less often, are more risk averse in the bedroom, and their penis tissue doesn’t get quite as hard. So what happens when the penis is bent but no ripping of the tunica albuginea occurs? A bending of the penis or missing penetration that does not cause tearing should not be a cause for concern. There are, however, men who do suffer bending injuries which could lead to Peyronie’s disease later on. This is a bending of the penis due to scar tissue buildup. This becomes a problem when intercourse becomes painful. But science is still unclear whether one leads to the other.