Is it possible to "break" your penis?

Dear Alice,

I was wondering if it is possible to fracture or "break" my penis when it is erect. I have heard that it is possible and that it is painful. Can it be corrected, and will it go back to normal?

— M

Dear M,

Even though there are no actual bones in a boner, it is possible to break one's penis. To understand how this incredibly rare and painful event can occur, we first need to review a little (or not so little) penile anatomy. The shaft of the penis is comprised of two chambers of spongy tissue, the corpora cavernosa, which run along the inside length of the penis. Erections occur when, in response to physical and/or mental triggers, the nerves of the penis signal the surrounding muscles to relax, allowing blood to pour into the corpora cavernosa. A thick membrane surrounding the corpora cavernosa, the tunica albuginea, keeps the blood that is being pumped into those spongy chambers from being able to escape. The result — a stiffer, larger, and more rigid rod. Although your erect penis may feel rock-hard, it is still flesh and blood.

Penile fractures occur when an erect penis is thrust against a harder, less flexible object. This could happen if someone enthusiastically plunges and pumps his penis into a partner, or a pillow let's say, and misses or "over-runs" the intended opening and instead hits a pubic bone, headboard, or other hard surface. If the object is hard enough, and the erect penis is thrust with enough force, that thick membrane surrounding the corpora cavernosa can tear, causing an audible "cracking" sound, abrupt loss of erection, severe pain and bruising, and a penis that is typically "bent" to one side or the other.

Penile fractures are a medical emergency and must be evaluated and treated immediately. In severe cases, it is possible to damage the urethra, interfering with urination. Treatment for penile fractures consists of immediate evaluation, and, most often, surgical intervention to repair the tunica albuginea and restore or preserve erectile function and the ability to pass urine. Similar to other fractures, the sooner the broken part is "set," the less likely permanent damage and misshapenness will result.

Even though many penile fractures can be fixed, it's probably safer and more pleasurable to focus on finesse rather than force when working and playing with an erection.

Again, broken penises are really hard to come by, so try not to let stories about this highly unlikely occurrence stand in the way of the happiness that your erect penis might bring to you and others.

Last updated Jul 14, 2014
Originally published Apr 04, 2003

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