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What Is a Penile Fracture?

A penile fracture is a tearing of the tunica albuginea, the group of tissue enveloping the two corpus cavernosa in the penis. These two structures are essential in maintaining an erection; as such, a fracture of the penis can severely limit an individual's ability to perform in sexual intercourse. The most common cause of this injury is blunt trauma, although wear and tear over time can contribute to its occurrence. Treatment usually involves surgery, as well as a strict set of guidelines to be followed post-procedure. If left untreated, a penile fracture can lead to medical complications and psychological issues.

The two structures involved in a penile fracture, the corpus cavernosum penis and the tunica albuginea, play vital roles in a man's sexual health. The corpus cavernosa is the elastic erectile tissue group that contains the blood that rushes to the penis during arousal, resulting in an erection. The tunica albuginea, on the other hand, contains Buck's fascia, a structure that constricts around the penis' main dorsal vein, preventing blood from exiting and subsequently maintaining the erection. Damage to the tunica albuginea can weaken its ability to keep blood in the corpus cavernosa, resulting in sexual dysfunction.

Blunt trauma is the cause of a majority of penile fracture cases. A sudden and powerful blow to the penis can cause a tear in the tunica albuginea. This most commonly occurs when the patient is at a state of arousal and is struck on the penis in such a way that it bends abnormally; fractures usually happens during overly-rough intercourse, or physical accidents that impact the penis. Constant abuse of the penis can also weaken the tunica albuginea, making it more prone to severe damage.

Individuals experience intense pain at the onset of a penile fracture. In many cases, patients report hearing an audible pop, as though a bone had broken. This is likely due to the rupturing of the tissue, accompanied by the sudden escape of blood from the corpus cavernosa. The penis almost immediately becomes flaccid, and the pain and discomfort linger for long after the injury. Blotches caused by internal bleeding might appear on the skin.

Although some individuals recommend non-surgical penile fracture treatment — often with the use of splints — many doctors advise treating the injury as a medical emergency requiring immediate surgery. Up to 50% of non-surgical procedures to repair a fracture of the penis result in complications, including permanent sexual dysfunction, penis disfigurement, and further internal damage. Patients who delay penile fracture surgery might also experience anxiety and depression issues involving the injury and its effects.

Discuss this Article

anon348741
Post 5

I was treated for a penile fracture, but I never had an erection at the time of my injury, which happened at work so the more I read about this, the more confused I get, so I guess you can get a penile fracture without having an erection? Can somebody help me understand this? I am really confused.

serenesurface
Post 3

@MikeMason-- It usually happens during intercourse or masturbation because the penis can only fracture while it's erect.

Penile fracture is kind of confusing and apparently some people don't even realize when it happens. I read in the health section of the newspaper one time about a man who had a very minor penile fracture. So the tissues were slightly damaged and he didn't have much swelling or pain. But he didn't get treated for it and continued to have intercourse.

He ended up damaging his penis so badly that he not only developed erectile dysfunction but he damaged his urethra and couldn't pass urine without pain either. So I guess more than the treatment method, the most important thing about penile fracture is early diagnosis and treatment.

stoneMason
Post 2

@fBoyle-- I think that the majority of the time, it happens by accident. So there is nothing that can be done to prevent it since we can't foresee the future. But we can take precautions to reduce the likelihood of it happening. Like wearing protective equipment while playing sports and being careful not to make a wrong move during intercourse.

I've actually heard of a lot of people who had this fracture during intercourse because the penis is more vulnerable when it's erect. A friend of mine also fractured his penis this way. He was rushed to the emergency room after he heard a crushing noise during intercourse and was in unbelievable pain. They operated on him right away

to check for and prevent internal damage.

He was really upset for a long time because he couldn't have a proper erection for months and even then it was painful. I think it was close to a year before he fully recovered and could enjoy a healthy sex life again. That's what he told me anyway. I think he's still lucky because he didn't get stuck with erectile dysfunction for life.

fBoyle
Post 1

When I first heard the term "penile fracture" I thought that the writer had made a mistake. I thought a fracture only referred to broken bones and since the penis doesn't have a bone, it's not possible for it to break. I had no idea that torn tissue can be called a fracture too.

A penile fracture sounds like a very serious problem. Just curious, is it possible to know beforehand if the tunica albuginea tissues are weakened and are prone to fractures in case of injury?

It sounds like there are no symptoms of wear and tear and people cannot prevent a fracture because they are not aware of what's going on. It's only when they have the actual penile fracture symptoms that they can seek treatment which is basically surgery.

And what exactly is done in a penile fracture surgery? How do surgeons fix this problem? Is it a highly successful procedure?

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