Hold on to your junk, because this might hurt (not really, but it might put you off having sex for a while).
Earlier today, on This Morning, Phillip Schofield was left speechless as Dr Sara appeared on the show and educated him and co-host Holly Willoughby on one of the biggest health stories happening right now: the snapped penis.
‘When a penis is broken or snapped, it’s because of the sheath around the soft tissue that pops – it makes a physical popping noise – and it becomes quite painful… excruciatingly painful in fact, and swollen,’ Dr Sara said.
To find out more about what happens when you break your penis, and how this can happen, we talked to Dr Earim, the medical director for Manual, a men’s health website.
You’ve been warned.
What is a snapped penis?
A snapped penis is effectively the same as a broken penis, but you don’t actually break a bone, explains Dr Earim.
‘OK so it’s not an urban myth, you actually can “snap” your penis and yes it’s as painful as it sounds, unfortunately,’ he says.
‘The condition is known as a penile fracture in the medical community.
‘Now let’s begin by correcting one common misconception, “boners” don’t actually contain any bones. So rest assured, no actual bones are harmed in a penile fracture. Your penis doesn’t fracture like your arm for example.’
So, what actually happens inside your penis when you snap it?
Dr Earim says: ‘To understand how you break your penis, a biology refresher is in order.
‘Your penis consists of three cylindrical tubes. Two of these are sponge-like tissues which expand and become rigid with blood to produce an erection (the corpus cavernosum).
‘The third tube lies between the two and contains the urethra, through which you urinate.
The three tubes are wrapped together by a very tough fibrous wrapping (called the tunica albuginea). Think of it as the casing around a sausage if you will.
‘When this tears or breaks, it causes a penile fracture, with the blood inside the erection leaking out into other areas of the penis.’
According to recent statistics, snapped penises are indeed on the rise.
The NHS reports that the number of men having surgery to repair a broken penis is at record levels, and it’s most common among men in their 30s and 40s, though it can affect all ages.
The youngest patient was 18 years old.
Last year, 164 men were required to undergo an operation to put their pride and joy back together.
How can you snap your penis?
Here’s the bad news: yes, it happens – but that doesn’t mean that your days of getting freaky between the sheets are over.
Just be careful, especially during certain positions.
Dr Earim says: ‘Typically this happens during sex where there is forceful thrusting and the penis slips out of the vagina/anus and strikes the partner instead of going back into the vagina.
‘The erect penis bends sharply, causing the internal tear. Studies indicate that the woman on top position caused the greatest risk, followed by doggy style – as the penis has less control to manoeuvre back to position when these penis “slips” happen in these positions.
‘The damage is usually immediately clear with symptoms such as a popping sound, significant pain, swelling, an immediate loss of erection, and internal bleeding visible in the penis.’
What should you do if you snap your penis?
This really should go without saying but if you feel pain in your penis (and if you’ve snapped it, you definitely will), stop what you’re doing – and seek medical help as soon as possible.
‘The penile fracture should be treated as a medical emergency, and surgical repair is required in most cases,’ Dr Earim says.
‘Surgical repair of the tear usually results in good outcomes and no permanent damage, and you should even be able to have sex again in four to six weeks.’
Yes, it can be awkward to seek help for a broken penis, but the longer you wait, the more you risk damaging your penis further.
Dr Earim adds: ‘However, delaying seeking medical assistance dramatically increases the risks of complications.
‘There is an estimated 10–50% complication rate with problems such as erectile dysfunction, permanent penile curvature/scarring, damage to the urethra and pain during sexual intercourse.
‘NHS figures suggest doctors dealt with 164 cases involving men who snapped their penis last year. This represents a 38% increase from 2014/15.
‘This suggests that our sexual behaviour is getting more adventurous and vigorous. However it’s important to put this all into context.
‘Humans have a lot of sex and in reality penile fractures are thankfully rare and these numbers are still small.
‘The penis is quite a robust piece of equipment, but always remember to handle your equipment with care and attention!’
What he said, really.
Got other burning sexual health questions? We asked doctor to answer the most common concerns that people have about their genitals and sex lives: here is our useful guide.