Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/09/2020
Seeking medical advice for sexual health concerns can be hard. But there’s nothing quite as motivating as excruciating pain, especially in your penis.
A big part of men’s health is sexual health. It’s not only physical, it’s mental and emotional. And something like a penile injury can do a number on how you feel overall.
Broken penises are uncommon. But they do happen. And delaying treatment can only lead to long lasting complications.
Sure, your penis doesn’t have a bone in it, so it’s a little misleading to call it a penile fracture. But the fact that you may hear a snap or popping sound when this injury occurs, makes the terms “broken” and “fractured” seem appropriate.
A broken penis results from the penis suffering blunt trauma while erect. Non-erect or flaccid penises bend; hard ones shouldn’t.
The actual injury is a tear or rupture in the tunica albuginea. This is the sheath that surrounds the corpora cavernosa, or cylinders of the penis which fill with blood and engorge when the penis is erect.
As a penis becomes erect, the tunica albuginea stretches and thins. This thinning paired with the intense pressure of blood flow within makes the erect penis a fragile thing.
Ultimately, the break or fracture affects the tunica albuginea, the corpus cavernosum and possibly the corpus spongiosum and urethra, and you’re left in a world of pain and a rapid loss of erection.
Penile fractures are pretty rare. One estimate suggests a U.S. national incidence of 1.02 for every 100,000 men per year, or roughly 8,000 emergency department visits for a broken penis each year. No matter the rarity, you don’t want to be that 1.02 guy.
The penis has to be hard to suffer a break. And when are penises most often hard? During sex. Well, we hope so anyways.
Penis injuries including penile fractures are most common during sex. And among those sexual injuries, it’s most likely to occur when the penis slips out of its intended space and thrusts against the perineum (space between the groin and anus) or the pubic bone.
Your partner would feel it, you would feel it and no one would enjoy it happening.
However, sexual intercourse isn’t the only time you can break your penis. You could suffer a penile fracture during masturbation, rolling over in the night on an erect penis or trying to force an erect penis to become flaccid (known as detumescence).
According to literature, some Middle Eastern cultures practice something known as Taqaandan, which can lead to a broken penis.
Taqaandan is the practice of “kneading and snapping” an erect penis to get it to go limp in situations where you don’t want to be seen with a boner.
Handy, but dangerous, and a common cause of fracture of the penis. One study from Iran found that as many as 76 percent of men who practice this erection control suffer a penile fracture because of it.
A penis fracture is generally an emergency situation. If you believe you’ve broken your penis, go to an emergency room.
You likely don’t need anyone to tell you this, as the injury results in considerable pain.
And you shouldn’t be too embarrassed — as many as 8,000 other men in the U.S. are seen in emergency departments each year for this very reason.
However, if you’re not experiencing any swelling, discoloration or bruising (hematoma), you may only be suffering from “mild buckling trauma” and not an actual break.
These symptoms are signs of a tear. Without them, there is generally no major impact to the penis’ structure.
If you do end up in the emergency department, the medical team will likely contact the urologist on call for a consult.
You may have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to confirm the rupture and could undergo surgery right away.
Surgical repair of a torn tunica albuginea involves making an incision in the skin, pulling it back and using absorbable sutures (stitches) to repair the tear and close the skin back up.
If you wait to seek treatment — whether for days or years after your injury — surgery isn’t a sure thing.
Days later, the same procedure may be possible. But if you wait too long and the fracture is healed without surgical repair, you could be left dealing with the long-term complications.
Long-term complications associated with an untreated broken penis include a penile bend or curvature, painful erections and erectile dysfunction.
Also, the fear of injuring yourself again can cause anxiety.
If you ever break your penis, the thought of it recurring could be enough to make you swear off sex. Well, maybe not quite. But more than likely, every move will be more cautious, even in the heat of the moment.
It’s believed penile fractures are more common when the woman is on top. So if your penis slips, everyone should stop moving to ensure correct positioning before proceeding.
And if you are dealing with anxiety after suffering a penis injury, talk to your partner about it. Counseling might also be a good option if you find your anxiety doesn’t subside.