It’s true! I wrote this for Allure.com. Image via Getty.
There are a lot of sexual myths out there, but doctors confirm that broken penises aren’t one of them. Remember when Lexie Grey supposedly broke Mark Sloan’s penis back when all our favorite characters on Grey’s Anatomy were still alive? Nope, Shonda Rhimes wasn’t making that up. While there aren’t actually bones in the penis, a penile fracture is a real-life injury. We spoke to several urologists to learn how it happens, what a broken penis looks like, and how to treat one.
What exactly is a fractured penis (often known as a “broken dick”)?
First, a quick refresher on what inside a penis can break in the first place: A penis contains two chambers of tissue called the corpus cavernosum, which fill with blood when the penis becomes erect.
Blunt force to an erect penis can tear the sheath surrounding these chambers (and even rupture the erectile tissue inside) so that the blood inside leaks out to other areas of the penis. If you need another visual, Alex Shteynshlyuger, a urologist in New York City, says to think of this covering less like a bone and “more like a sausage casing.” (Doctors, however, call the covering of the corpus cavernosum the “tunica albuginea.”)
How do penile fractures happen?
A penis can be broken during vigorous penetrative sex or through masturbation. When this happens during partnered sex involving a penis and vagina, “generally speaking, the penis will come out of the vagina and strike against the pubic bone,” says Leslie Deane, an associate professor of urology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
While a penis can fracture during sex in any position, research suggests that rear-entry positions such as doggy style may lead to penile fractures more often than others: A penis may be more likely to exit a vagina or anus entirely when thrusting from behind and then, instead of reentering, bang against something hard like the perineum. (If you’re an anal sex beginner, it’s important to take things slow — check out our anal sex prep tips right here.) Deane says penile fractures aren’t uncommon, and that he sees several cases a year. He adds that he observes higher rates of the injury around Valentine’s Day and that alcohol is sometimes involved.
What does a broken dick look like?
According to Stacy Loeb, an assistant professor of urology and population health at New York University, a penile fracture may be accompanied by a popping noise, a rapid loss of erection, and acute pain. “The penis may develop swelling and bruising, referred to as an ‘eggplant deformity,'” Loeb says. This means that the eggplant emoji isn’t totally off-base as a representation of dicks: It just looks like a broken one. Shteynshlyuger adds that some penile fractures lead to bleeding from the tip of the urethra and that patients may notice blood in their urine. If you’re having fun with a penis that suddenly “pops,” goes soft, and causes its owner immense pain, seek medical attention immediately. You might have a broken dick on your hands.
How is a broken penis treated?
Still reading? Good, because there’s some positive news: If treated, broken dicks stand a great chance of making a full recovery. Unfortunately, Deane says, surgery is required in most cases. While there are less severe penile injuries that can occur during sex, such as a tear of one of the superficial veins, the only way to know for sure what’s going on is to head to the emergency room.
It’s also important to do it fast: “Surgical repair of the tear usually results in good outcomes,” Shteynshlyuger emphasizes. However, “If a penile fracture is severe and not treated in a timely manner, it can lead to problems with obtaining or maintaining erections, [or] it may also cause scar formation in the penis and a condition called Peyronie’s disease, which causes curvature and deformity of the penis.”
After surgery to repair the ruptured “sausage casing” inside the penis, the recovering patient should be able to have sex again in about six to eight weeks, although Deane advises going slow at first. This doesn’t mean that wild, headboard-rattling sex is off the table after a penile fracture, but it’s not a bad idea for patients to ease their way back in.