Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/7/2021
Injuring your penis is painful enough, but knowing you’ve potentially done long-term damage doesn’t only hurt physically, but can significantly impact your quality of life.
Erectile tissue damage is rare. But the long-term effects can be very damaging. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help ensure you have the best possible outcome.
Erectile tissue damage is damage to the tissues of the penis. This damage is generally the result of an injury, and quite rare. For example, penis fracture, which is defined as the rupture of the tunica albuginea, was only reported in 1331 cases between 1935 and 2001, according to research in the Canadian Urological Association Journal.
This damage can be caused by numerous scenarios, and result in long-term effects.
The tunica albuginea is a multiple-layered structure that surrounds the innermost tissues of the penis. It is made of collagen and can withstand considerable pressure. It’s a versatile structure, supple when the penis is soft and able to maintain a wall of rigidity when erect. In fact, it is one of the strongest structures in the male body.
But one aspect of the tunica albuginea’s versatility makes it vulnerable. When erect, the structure thins from 2mm to as thin as 0.25mm, or a decrease of 125 percent, all while pressure from the hard penis increases. As you may well imagine, injury to the erectile tissue is most likely when the penis is hard, and most common during sexual activity. This can occur during intercourse, when the penis slips out of the vagina and impacts the body causing blunt trauma, but also during masturbation.
Injury to the external tissues (or skin) of the penis may be caused by bites, burns, cuts, or machines, but we’re primarily talking about the internal erectile tissue here.
When a penile injury like this happens, you may experience a sharp bend in the penis, accompanied with a “pop” sound, and an immediate loss of erection. Unsurprisingly, this will be accompanied by pain. The pop and the pain are both signals that a tear in the tunica albuginea tissue has occurred — urologists call this a penis fracture.
Short-term, the effects of penile tissue damage may be pain and bruising. Longer-term, you may deal with disfigurement and difficulty with sexual functions.
The pain may go away fairly quickly, or last long. And you may experience significant bruising, or hematoma. If you see blood at the tip of the penis or in your urine, you could have a serious urethral injury as well.
In some cases, the damage happens repeatedly. Peyronie’s disease is the formation of scar tissue in the erectile tissue, which causes painful and curved erections. It most often occurs when a man has repeated penile injuries, as the penis heals the small tears with new healthy tissue, but this new tissue doesn’t expand like the old. Signs of Peyronie’s include a curved erection or narrowing at certain points of the erection, where part of the penis doesn’t expand like it once did.
For serious penile fractures, surgery is recommended. A surgeon cuts into the penis, identifies the tears and repairs them. They also remove blood clots.
In cases of Peyronie’s disease, medication may be injected into the penis to dissolve scar tissue in a non-surgical treatment, or surgery may be used to physically remove it. Surgery for this condition may involve lengthening one side of the penis or shortening the other — all in an effort to remedy the curvature.
If you’ve experienced penile trauma, talking with a doctor as soon as possible can help ensure you’re back to a satisfying sexual life. Waiting can be painful.
Pain, considerable curvature where there wasn’t one before, erectile dysfunction and bruising are all potential signs of a serious problem. While getting prompt treatment for your penis might seem embarrassing, waiting may make things worse. A healthcare professional, medical doctor or urologist can best diagnose your condition and suggest the most appropriate treatment options.
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