Episode one covers sex parties and Dionysus, the God of ritual madness and wine.
Another winner for GQ.com. Illustration by Cecile Dormeau.
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.
Read my sexy lips.
This article was originally published in GQ. Illustration by Cecile Dormeau.
Recently I got lip fillers. I did it for myself, not “for a guy,” and my new lips look great (they look like my usual lips, but fuller and with a little Cupid’s bow). But when I told the men in my life what I was up to, they didn’t really know what to do with it.
From Donald Trump’s sexist tweet about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski’s supposed facelift to Rob Kardashian’s bizarre social-media meltdown about Blac Chyna’s plastic surgery, there are a lot of examples of how not to speak to and about women who elect to get cosmetic procedures. Maybe you’d be stoked if your girlfriend announced that she wanted to get work done. But you might also feel apprehensive, especially if your lady is planning a nose job or a breast augmentation, more drastic procedures that require anesthesia. You respect her and you love the way she looks already, and that’s beautiful. But when she brings up getting work done, give her the benefit of the doubt: Trust that she’s put thought into this and done her research. If all she wants is a little Botox or lip fillers, chill. Ask her why she wants it done, and listen. Express your thoughts and concerns, but at the end of the day, it’s her body and her choice. Ultimately, you should support it. It might end up turning you on.
Don’t be like Donald and Rob—here’s what to say and do to be supportive each step of the way:
Before: Don’t Overdo It
“You’re beautiful just the way you are,” is at its core a supportive sentiment, and an important (albeit Bruno Mars-y) one. However, if your partner is telling you that she wants work done, please don’t undermine her intelligence and right to choose her own aesthetic by defaulting to praises of natural beauty. I, for instance, already have pink hair and eyelash extensions. Whenever a dude waxes poetic about how lovely I’d look if I let the pink wash out and opted for my natural brown hair, I feel like he’s undermining my decisions. I don’t feel like myself with long brown hair, I feel like myself with a messy magenta bob, damnit! The same goes for getting work done. When I first announced that I was going to get lip fillers, one guy said something mean about how I “just wanted to feel better about myself.” Well, in a sense, yeah—I wanted them because I enjoy feeling hot and powerful and I like how they look. Please don’t patronize me, or any woman, by assuming the desire to get work done is to fill some soul hole. Respect that this is my body, my choice, and my money, and if I want some Lana Del Rey-esque pouty lips, then that’s up to me. Don’t assume or say anything that infantilizes a woman’s choices about her body. And for fuck’s sake, don’t say something plain mean like “that’s gross,” because I know you follow Kylie Jenner on Instagram.
During: Be There in Person or in Texts
If your lady is getting something done that requires anesthesia, such as a nose or boob job, it might be nice to go with her, but injections are so quick that it’s not necessary. If you can’t join her on her beauty expedition, encourage her the day of and check in throughout in a supportive—but not annoying—manner. She’s about to experience a teeny bit of pain. Feel free to ask her, “Does it hurt?” and then laud women for having such high pain tolerance. Sitting in a comfy chair in Dr. Dara Liotta’s pristine Manhattan office, I loved getting my lips done. I have ten tattoos and enjoy BDSM so I may not be the best judge of pain threshold, but injections are truly no biggie. If you’re curious and want a fair comparison, I went to the dentist earlier that week and that sucked a million times more. Dr. Liotta’s office was sexy. Getting work done really does feel sexy, so totally amp that up—either verbally, if she allows you to accompany her, or through texts. Ask her things like, “How you holding up, champ?” or joke around about celebrity sightings. Truly the best things you can say during the procedure are words of encouragement, such as: “You got this! You’re going to look even hotter, if that’s possible.” Those newly plumped lips will reward you.
After: Give Her Soup and Space
If you want to score all the points after her procedure, bring her things like delicious soup, frozen yogurt, and ice packs. Snuggle up with movies or a House of Cards binge-watching session. Know that she may not be able to continue a conversation because her lips are sore. And if she wants space, give her space. Regarding lip augmentation, it takes a day or so to go from swollen to sexy—for other procedures it can take a lot longer. You know in High Fidelity, when John Cusack talks about his girlfriend’s plain cotton underwear “hanging on the thing,” and how there are parts of intimacy that aren’t inherently sexy? John Cusack fantasizes about other women, knowing that they too probably have cotton panties, but he only sees them in lingerie. Your girlfriend might not want to taint the sexy intimacy with this moment of puffy-lipped un-sexy intimacy. If you are allowed over to watch her attempt post-procedure ramen slurping, make sure she’s comfy, and if you make any jokes about how she looks puffy, do it with love. And then, yes: Please let go of any hang-ups you might have, and enjoy her beautiful newly plumped lips, which she elected to get done just because she wanted to. Since you’ve been so supportive of her choices you get to have fun with those suckers!
Repost of an article I originally wrote for Mic Connections. Photo courtesy of Mic/Getty Images.
The last time I cried after sex was during a summer fling I wasn’t totally into, about a year and a half ago. The sex was consensual, but all of a sudden, while he was on top of me, my flight-or-flight instinct kicked in. I had to ask him to stop before tears came.
This wasn’t a first-time experience. I live with post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by sexual assault, which means I sometimes have panic attacks during sex, which can sometimes end in tears. But according to a paper recently published in the journal Sexual Medicine, I’m not alone.
According to the study, nearly 46% of the more than 230 women polled have felt depressed after sex at some point during their lives. These women reported feeling symptoms of PCD, or postcoital dysphoria, which is marked by “tearfulness, anxiety, agitation, a sense of melancholy or depression or aggression,” according to the Independent. Of those women, 2% said they felt that way after every time they had sex. And although 20% of the women polled said they had experienced sexual abuse in the past, which led to them developing mental health issues down the road, many of those surveyed didn’t report having a preexisting condition like PTSD to explain their symptoms.
Why the hell are so many women feeling sad after sex? The PCD study had some obvious flaws. For instance, the results were collected through an online survey, and the sample size included predominantly heterosexual women. But this is not the first time researchers have tried to link sex to sadness in women. A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health found one-third of women said they felt depressed even after satisfactory sex.
Jerilyn, 27, is one of them. “Even when I was single, the post-sex depression morphed into a different shade of empty. I always attributed it to the fear of being abandoned,” she told Mic. “I started to wonder if something was being taken from me every time I had sex, even though I enjoyed the act itself.”
Researchers theorized this post-sex dysphoria was caused by hormonal shifts after orgasm. But according to sex and relationship expert Logan Levkoff, the reason might have less to do with biology and more to do with how women’s sexuality is viewed in modern society.
“I think it’s important to remember that if you grow up not feeling empowered by your body, if you feel guilt and shame about sex, if you’ve been taught that your needs are less important than a man’s needs … [it’s not a] surprise that some people wouldn’t feel great after sex,” Levkoff told Mic.
According to Levkoff, part of why women might feel down after getting laid is that their needs weren’t met in bed, a phenomenon linked to how our culture teaches women about their sexual desires. While many men believe that women can achieve orgasm via penetration alone, according to one study, about 75% of women need some form of clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm.
If their partners aren’t interested in paying attention to their desires, it’s no surprise that women would feel frustrated or emotionally drained after sex. “I think that the take-home message has a lot to do with how we learned about sex [and] how we feel about our bodies,” Levkoff said.
Playing into stereotypes: Possible causes of PCD aside, it’s worth noting that the study could be interpreted as perpetuating the idea that women are more biologically predisposed than men to becoming emotionally attachedto their partners after sex. (That notion was quickly debunked by a study from Concordia University, which found men and women process both love and sexual attraction in pretty much the same way.)
The idea that women are more likely than men to become sad or depressed after sex also inherently endorses the stereotype that women just aren’t really into sex at all. While numerous publications have said otherwise — in fact, a fertility app survey from earlier this year determined that many women would prefer to be having more sex than they’re currently having — the stereotype of the sexless housewife in a frumpy nightgown snapping, “Not tonight, honey,” at her poor, neglected husband still persists.
For this reason, many women don’t buy into the PCD study, insisting that they feel just fine after sex. “The only time I ever feel negative emotions after sex is if it was a one-night stand and I didn’t practice safe sex,” Meredith*, 24, explained. “Maybe guilt the next day, but no, I’m never sad. I love sex.”
Ehris, 22, is also skeptical that women have a biological predisposition toward post-sex depression. “I’ve experienced [sadness after sex] before. But I don’t think that it needs to be pathologized as a problem experienced predominantly by women,” she explained. “I’ve had and heard of partners of both sexes and a variety of genders who have felt melancholic after sex.”
Ehris brings up an important point: PCD isn’t exclusive to women. Men too don’t always feel awesome after sex. “We certainly don’t talk about it as much,” Levkoff said of PCD in men. “And that’s the one thing — this study sort of stereotypes, ‘Yeah, women really aren’t interested in sex.’ I don’t want this to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think that’s a bad paradigm to put out there.”
A hormonal quirk or a sign that something’s not quite right: An orgasm can be one of nature’s most powerful drugs. When you have sex, the release of hormones in your brain can cause some funny reactions, from making you want to snuggle into your partner’s armpit to making you cry uncontrollably for no apparent reason. The occasional bout of post-sex sadness might be a sign that something isn’t right in the relationship, but it might also just be an odd quirk of nature and nothing more than that.
That said, if you consistently feel sad and depressed after having sex, it’s worth asking yourself why and reevaluating your partner selection. While it might sound obvious, who you’re having sex with plays a major role in how you feel about it afterward. Levkoff said it’s wise to check in with yourself and make sure you are comfortable with your partner and that there are no unaddressed, underlying issues preventing you from enjoying the encounter to the fullest, even if you’re just looking for a one-night stand.
Ultimately, it’s important to have sex with someone with whom you feel safe, “and by safe I mean respected, trusted, cared for,” Levkoff said. “It might not even be a monogamous romantic relationship. If you feel like this is someone you are connected to and who respects you, that certainly impacts [your feelings afterward].”
Jerilyn experienced PCD for years before she started dating her current partner, a longtime friend of hers. They’ve been together five months, and Jerilyn said she is finally enjoying sex in the way she thought she was meant to.
“This is the first time in my life that I have not had some form of postcoital depression. The only reason I get sad is if he falls asleep and I want more,” she explained. “Sex is finally what it should be for me, which is primal and passionate, and no longer something that provokes that overhanging, ambiguous sensation that something isn’t right.”
I’ve dealt with a lot of my PTSD-related issues, and like Jerilyn, I am now with a partner with whom I feel safe. I no longer feel sadness or anxiety after sex. Instead, I feel a lovely, Ativan-esque sense of calmness.
*Some names have been changed and last names have been withheld to allow subjects to speak freely on private matters.
Originally published in Broadly.
We’ve all got baggage. Adding an extra layer to the muddled waters of dating is the highly common and formidable post traumatic stress disorder that can arise from a sexual assault. For me, help came through medical cannabis and a partner down to go down on me while I watch Planet Earth and sip valerian root tea while listening to the calming voice of David Attenborough. RAINN estimates an average of 293,066 Americans (age 12 or older) are victims of sexual violence each year, so it could happen to you or your partner as well.
“Chances are very good that they will date a sexual assault survivor because the rates are so high,” says psychologist Dr. Barbara Greenberg. “When you are dating or having sex with somebody, you’re interacting with them on the same level which they were violated. So that makes it so tricky.” While all relationships, individuals, and healing processes are different, there are certain general things one can do when dating a survivor of sexual assault.
First and foremost, believe them. “When people tell you their stories, believe them,” says Dr. Greenberg. “The likelihood of someone making that up is probably very, very low. Listen and believe them, and don’t feel like you have to fix things for them, or that you can fix things for then…Let them speak.” In other words, shut the fuck up a bit and let them tell their story – in their own time. “If you love someone, or even if you don’t love them and you’re just trying to have a positive sexual experience with them, you need to let them really sort through it at a pace and level of detail that’s comfortable for them,” says Emily Lindin of The Unslut Project and UnSlut: A Documentary Film which explores sexual shaming, including interviews with the family and friends of Rehtaeh Parsons. Parsons was a 17-year-old Canadian student who reportedly hung herself after sexual bullying resulting from photos that surfaced of her alleged gang rape.
When it is appropriate to chime in, it’s important to ask the right questions. “The right questions are not: ‘What happened? Where did you get touched? Where were your parents? Were you drunk?’ Not any accusatory or judgmental questions. Don’t ask about details, ask about triggers,” says Dr. Greenberg. It’s important to go over triggers to prevent a survivor from having to relive an experience. A trigger is something that can remind you of the assault and cause flashbacks. It could be anything from seeing someone on the subway with a similar tattoo to your assaulter, or hearing a word or phrase they used during the attack, or being touched in an unintentionally similar way. It’s shitty for everyone when during sex you’re trying your hardest not to spiral into full panic attack because your boyfriend accidentally did something that surfaced flashbacks from your assault, and it’s also really frustrating to have to listen to them whine about how usually they are so great at getting chicks off with the exact move that’s causing your flashback.
When dating a sexual assault survivor, sometimes you just have to be patient and learn not to take things personally. “This is a tough one, but you really have to work on not taking it personally. Because it’s due to the trauma and not you,” says Dr. Greenberg. “You have to be patient. You’re going to learn how to be gentle, to avoid the triggers, and how to make it a safe and lovely experience. And be forgiving… as they trust you more, things will become easier.”
For some women (and yes – men can be sexual assault survivors too) you’re dealing with persistent old scars that just don’t want to fade. For others, like Kara*, who survived a rape in the past month, her and her boyfriend Jon* are having to navigate triggers bubbling up from a very fresh wound. “What’s so disheartening is that she’s blaming herself, and that she’s responsible for it, or maybe she didn’t do enough stuff,” Jon told me. “I have to encourage her that it’s not true.” The root keeping Kara and Jon strong is that, when they discuss her rape, he remains respectful and reminds her of the number one rule – it wasn’t your fault. Period. “He’s been really helpful, because I’ll sit here and get upset and blame myself and he actually reasons with me,” says Kara.
“When we brought [Kara] to the emergency room, she was covered in bruises, like big hand print bruises,” said Jon. “She [said] ‘I don’t know maybe I didn’t do enough… I bruise easily,’ and I was like, ‘We wrestle, all the time. In bed.’ I’ll put my butt on her face to fart on her. And I was like, ‘You try really hard not to let me fart on you, don’t you?’ And she goes, ‘Yeah, I try my best.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah every time we wrestle you’re trying really hard, but you’re not left with any bruises on you. So when you were in this struggle obviously you were fighting very hard not to leave these bruises.”
As Boyfriend of the Year as Jon seems, he understands that to get through this, Kara will need to see a professional trained in treating assault victims. “He’s been trying to get me to talk to a counselor, which, I will…” says Kara. In order to encourage her, Jon said, he “bribed her with a kitty.” “He did, he’s like you can get a kitten…but you can’t talk to it like your counselor, you have to actually go. It’s a really tiny kitty I think it will help just to take care of something. Putting the love and energy into it,” said Kara.
“You’re going to need to go to therapy and see a crisis counselor – as soon as possible. Because the sooner you see a crisis counselor the less likely you are to get post traumatic stress disorder. They found that with trauma victims are helped immediately they’re much more likely to have a positive outcome,” explains Dr. Greenberg. The healing from a sexual assault is a lifelong process. Even with patience, respect, and time, surviving a rape is something you have to carry with yourself for the rest of your life. Yet, you’re still you. You still want to drink herbal tea while your boyfriend eats you out, or you’re still are going to have to smell your boyfriend’s smelly farts. Life stops for nothing.
“Acknowledge that it is a really important part of their history, [and let] them know that you’re ready to listen when you’re ready to talk, and that you respect them,” says Lindin. “I think it’s important to remember that sexual assault survivors don’t stop being adult humans because they went through this.”
Dear Planned Parenthood,
When I was in 10th grade and my friends and I were beginning to discover the power of the blowjob, we heard rumors that this hot senior, who I’ll call Mike, had chlamydia. One of my friends had gone down on him and was scared she had the clap in her throat. I quickly drew out of a chart of our high school’s web of hook ups and concluded that if she had the clap in her throat, I most certainly did too. We were panicked and uneducated and couldn’t go to our parents, so we went to Planned Parenthood. None of us has chlamydia, but everyone was really nice, taught us all about chlamydia and safe sex practices, gave us a fuck ton of condoms, and we left feeling a little more grown up. I don’t think it’s a reach to say that first visit and what I learned about safe sex (they taught me a lot more than my high school was) helped inform what would become a career largely based on writing about sex.
Over a decade later, I still go to Planned Parenthood, now in New York City, for all my reproductive health needs. They do my annual pap and HPV test (although now it’s recommended only once every three years). They do my breast cancer screening, they answer all my anxious questions. They test me for STIs and HIV about once every six months (most people don’t go that often – but I am mega-OCD when it comes to my health). They also provide me with affordable birth control (as a freelance writer I’m on a form of Medicaid so it’s free) and give me heaps of condoms for free too (that shit’s expensive).
To get (extremely) personal here, I’ve (knock on wood) never contracted an STI or experienced an unwanted pregnancy, despite having a rather active sex life for over a decade now. Many people I love have, to no fault of their own, it just happens sometimes. STIs are sneaky and pregnancy is what women’s bodies were designed to do, so sometimes we get pregnant. Maybe I’m so used to taking pills for other reasons (lol), one more at the same time everyday is no biggie for me. But the whole damn reason I have access to the birth control and thus have never needed an abortion is Planned Parenthood! Thank you, Planned Parenthood. Why don’t more people talk about this side of it? During Friday’s debate, Trent Franks, R-Ariz showed Congress a graphic poster of an aborted fetuses in Congress (I’d like to see a graphic poster of a 17-year-old child who lives in low-income housing giving birth to a ten pound kid after getting knocked up by her mom’s boyfriend. Then I’d like to ask Congress about the funds we’ll need to take care of her and her child, and if they play the “work hard and get a job” card to bitch about welfare, let’s talk about income disparity for women – especially women of color – and how we’ve created an education system and low employment rates following a crash caused by, guess who, rich white men, that more or less sets children birthed to such parents as the aforementioned 17-year-old up for failure and a life of crime, oh and if there’s time, we can talk about how much prison costs the taxpayers. End rant). Oh one more rant – do we show graphic posters of all the dead civilians (dead babies too) before approving war missions and drone strikes? Anyone? Bueller?
The legislation approved Friday would end federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, during which some time investigators will snoop around and see what they can find out to be true from those edited videos, basically. As a freelance writer, ending federal payments will directly affect me and my ability to love and fuck the way I want and I am outraged. Yet, I recognize my privilege. I’m a cis white girl with supportive parents and a Dad who is a lawyer. If something happened and I needed an abortion, they’d make sure I was able to see someone safe. I am one of the lucky ones. The majority of the women and families who need Planned Parenthood don’t have parents with the funds to step in in such a scenario.These politicians are using overtly edited videos for political gain, and imposing some condescending moral high ground that is completely unsupported by science pretty much because they think it makes them look cool to their Republican constituents and twisted version of God. It’s evil.
Planned Parenthood, I thank you for keeping me healthy, safe, educated, and not pregnant for the whole time I’ve been having sex. I love you, and I stand by you.
Sophie Saint Thomas