If you hear snap, crackle, or pop…stop what you’re doing and call your doctor.
1. It’s the stuff that nightmares are made of: breaking your penis during sex.
It’s real, and it’s very painful.
2. Here’s what it means to “break your penis”:
OK, so you don’t actually have a bone in your penis, but it is possible to fracture your manhood, and it’s just as serious as it sounds. “The fracture isn’t like what you understand about breaking your ankle or forearm. It’s a tear in the part of the penis called the tunica albuginea,” Dr. Darius Paduch, Ph.D., urologist and male sexual medicine specialist at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, tells BuzzFeed Life.
Think of it like a balloon that fills up with blood to turn a penis into a boner. “If you have a hole in the balloon, you aren’t going to be able to inflate it,” says Paduch. “With a real penile fracture, you will immediately experience a popping sound and then lose the erection right away — exactly like you would if you put a hole in the balloon. The blood, instead of going through the veins and arteries, is going to be sitting out under the skin, so you’re going to have a bruise at the base of the penis.” Yeah, not ideal.
3. It’s most likely to happen during woman-on-top sex.
A recent study published in the journal Advances in Urology looked at common causes of penis injuries by surveying patients in three emergency hospitals during a span of three years. In total, they saw 42 confirmed cases of penile fractures, and the most dangerous sex position in this group turned out to be cowgirl.
This can happen a few different ways, but the most common one is when the woman arches back a little too far. “If a woman leans backward toward her partner’s legs, the penis will get overextended and the ligament that attaches the penis to the pelvis can be torn,” says Paduch. So obviously, speak up if something feels off. “If you start hurting during sex, you can’t be too proud to protect your penis.” Amen.
4. But doggie style and anal sex can be dangerous too.
With any kind of rear entry, you could accidentally hit either the pubic bone or the sacrum (tailbone) of your partner. Another problem could be if the partner on the bottom bends forward too far and overextends the penis, says Paduch. Obviously not every bump or bend is going to cause a fracture, but if you’re thrusting with a lot of force, it’s more likely that you’ll tear something if you miss your target.
5. Breaking it while cheating is pretty common/proof that karma exists.
In a small study of 16 penile fractures, half of them happened during an extramarital affair. Obviously this is a tiny study, but Paduch says this is pretty common knowledge among doctors who fix penis injuries. It sounds like karma, but the real reason makes a lot of sense: Cheating sex is often rushed and happening outside the bedroom (think: car, office, closet, bathroom, etc.). And now your penis is broken and you have to explain how that happened without bae there…good luck.
6. And longer, harder erections are especially at risk.
Even though big, rigid boners generally = good, they can also be more fragile. Overextension to the point of fracture is more common with longer penises, and super-strong erections could actually be damaged more when bent, says Paduch. In fact, injuries are less common in older men since they generally aren’t getting 100% erect, he says.
7. You’re also at risk if you have trouble with penis sensitivity.
“I always ask guys who have some traumatic experience like this, why did they use so much force?” says Paduch. It’s often because the men have decreased sensitivity, which can be a result of alcohol, diabetes or pre-diabetes, a vitamin deficiency, or they’ve gotten used to masturbating in a way that’s not easily replicated with intercourse. For instance, if you grip too hard while masturbating, you may tense up and use too much force because you’re trying to get that same sensation, explains Paduch. Whatever the issue is, a urologist can help you identify the problem and address it — before you break your penis.
8. If it happens, see a doctor as soon as possible. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. THIS IS YOUR PENIS.
Watch out for a popping noise, pain, immediate loss of erection, and bruising at the base. If that happened, you probably broke your penis. “You need to see a urologist within 24 hours, because all studies show that if he’s seen in 24 hours then the outcomes are excellent. If you wait, the tear will heal as a scar,” says Paduch.
Basically, the layer holding the blood in your erection can completely break, and it may even damage the urethra, nerves, or arteries. This isn’t a sore throat you can blow off — your penis needs immediate attention.
The doctor will do an ultrasound or MRI to assess the damage. If it’s a fracture, they’ll do an immediate operation where they use sutures to close the defects. If it’s just a small tear, your penis might just need some ice packs and a three- to four-week vacation from sex.
9. If you have a broken penis…you should keep it elevated to help it heal.
Yes, seriously. “We tell guys to keep their penis up or pointing toward their nose,” says Paduch. “So wear a jockstrap for a week or so.” Especially in well-endowed guys, if your junk is hanging down all day in boxer shorts, even a minor injury at the base will travel to the head of the penis and cause swelling that looks like an angry turtleneck.
10. The best safety gear for your penis: common sense.
Obviously these cases are rare, so this shouldn’t scare you off from having whatever kind of sex you enjoy. Just use common sense…and lube. If something hurts, speak up.
Oh, and if you’re going to cheat — get a room, suggests Paduch. “Don’t do it in your office where you might hit the desk.”