It’s not just an urban legend—you really can break your penis. But since there aren’t any actual bones in your boner, it’s not quite the same injury as, say, fracturing your arm.

The condition is known as a penile fracture, and it occurs when your erect penis sustains some kind of force.

Related: Having Penis Problems? Here’​s Your Complete Guide to Staying Hard for Life

First, a refresher on what makes up your erection: Your penis consists of three cylindrical tubes. The two larger tubes are called the corporeal bodies—think of them as “balloons”—that fill up with blood when you become hard.

The “skin” of these balloons is the tunica albuginea, a tissue that expands both length- and width-wise during an erection, says Jacob Rajfer, M.D., professor of urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The third, smaller tube—located on the underside of your penis—is your urethra, from which you urinate.

When you get aroused, blood rushes into those two larger tubes, and the pressure grows. That makes your penis rigid and hard to bend. So if it experiences some kind of force—like if you accidentally hit your girlfriend’s perineum during sex while thrusting, or she moves it too much when grinding on top—it can lead to pressure overload.

“The surrounding tissue that’s holding the pressure inside can’t withstand it anymore,” says Dr. Rajfer. “And that’s when the rupture occurs.”

(It’s awful—but these 10 Terrible Things That Can Happen to Your Penis may be even worse.)

Penile fractures happen only when you have an erection. When you’re soft, the pressure inside your penis is low, so it’s more able to bend and withstand unexpected forces.

What Are the Symptoms of Penile Fracture?

If you’ve fractured your penis, you’ll usually know immediately. One of the most telling symptoms is a cracking or popping sound—that’s actually the tissue tearing.

You’ll also probably lose your erection right away, similar to what happens if you stick a pin in a blown-up balloon. Then comes swelling, black-and-blue bruising, and, of course, pain. Lots and lots of pain.

If the injury also affects your urethra, you might notice blood when you urinate. This means your urethra has ripped, says Dr. Rajfer.

What Should You Do If You Fracture Your Penis?

Any of those symptoms during sex should tell you that something’s not quite right below your belt. And while it might be embarrassing to hit the emergency room with your penis problem, that’s exactly what you need to do.

The doctors at the ER can confirm your penile fracture through a clinical exam and also by tests like an urethrogram, an MRI scan, or a cavernosogram, which is an X-ray of the penis.

Occasionally, you may need a cystoscopy—a procedure in which a hollow tube equipped with a lens can look directly inside your urethra—to determine whether it’s actually torn.

You’ll usually require surgery to repair the tear in your penile tissue. And it’s important that you go under the knife within 3 days of the injury. This isn’t a wait-and-see condition—if you put it off too long, you can raise your risk of complications down the line.

“It becomes much more difficult to repair it, and scarring can start to form,” says Dr. Rajfer.

This scarring can lead to a curve in your penis when you get an erection, or you might find yourself unable to even get hard in the first place. That’s because the tissue that holds the blood in with an erection is damaged, resulting in erectile dysfunction (ED).

(Taking ED meds and still can’t rise to the occasion? Here are 6 Reasons Your Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Aren’t Working.)

If you see a doc in a timely fashion and get the surgery within 72 hours of the injury, your prognosis is pretty good, says Dr. Rajfer. You should even be able to have sex again about 4 to 6 weeks post-op.

How to Avoid Breaking Your Penis

The good news: Penile fracture is a relatively uncommon condition, so you don’t need to brace yourself for that pop each time you get busy in bed.

But there are some sex positions that seem to be a bit more risky for your penis. In a Brazilian study, half of all penile fractures that occurred during sex were from the woman-on-top position. In comparison, only 21 percent of cases stemmed from missionary.

That might be because when she’s on top, she controls the movement, and her entire body weight is landing on your erect penis. Plus, if there’s a slip, she might not be able to interrupt it in time, says study author Leonardo Reis, M.D., Ph.D.

(Consider removing these 4 Most Dangerous Sex Positions from your playbook.)

Reduce your risk by making sure you’re fully erect before penetrating her. If you’re not, your penis may be more likely to torque or twist, which could raise the risk of penile fracture, says Dr. Rajfer.

Christa Sgobba For nearly 10 years, Christa has created health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness content that’s steeped in science but engaging enough that people actually want to read it.

No matter how good a time you’re having in bed, certain things are guaranteed to kill the mood. Examples: your parents walking in on you when your ass is pointing skyward or someone having a deeply uncool reaction to perfectly normal bodily functions. But breaking someone’s penis belongs in a whole other league of sexual buzzkills.

Before understanding how dick damage occurs, you have to know what a penis is—and is not—made of.

OK, so technically, you can’t break a penis, because they lack one very important qualification. “People call them boners, but there’s no bone in the penis,” Mark Hong, M.D., a urologist in Phoenix, Arizona, tells SELF. When it comes to medical terminology, what we’re talking about here is penile fractures.

“The penis is basically a spongy tube of blood vessels, or corpora cavernosa, wrapped in a very durable, almost rubbery layer,” Paul R. Shin, M.D., a urologist at Shady Grove Fertility in the Washington, D.C. area, tells SELF. That layer is called the tunica albuginea, or the membrane of the penis that allows the spongy tissue to swell with blood when someone gets erect, says Hong.

Penile fractures happen when that membrane cracks or ruptures in some way. “There will be an immediate loss of erection, you’ll hear a popping noise, and there will be a lot of bruising and swelling,” says Shin. Basically, there won’t be any question that something is really, really wrong.

Unfortunately, sex is prime time for penile fractures to occur.

The most common scenario is a “mistimed thrust” in a woman-on-top situation, after the penis has slipped out of the vagina, says Shin. (A 2014 study in Advances in Urology backs this up.) If you push down with all your might when the penis isn’t perfectly lined up with your vagina, it can be too much for one body part to handle.

Lest you think that avoiding anything cowgirl-related will put you in the clear, Shin says, “I’ve seen happen from every other position as well.” Great!

The mechanics are basically the same, just flipped into a different pose. “Immediately around the vagina, there’s the pubic bone,” says Hong. “If someone’s penis slips out and ends up banging into the bone, you have one hard structure meeting another. Sometimes the pubic bone wins out.”

So, yes, it can happen in any sex position, but it’s not likely enough that you need to worry about it every time you have sex, says Shin.

If you’re ever unlucky enough to inflict this kind of injury, there’s only one thing to do.

Getting medical attention for the person you’re with should be your top priority. You can ice your partner’s penis a bit before you leave, but what’s most important is finding a doctor ASAP. “I’ve seen guys try to wait this out, and the biggest reason is because it’s embarrassing to walk into the ER or a doctor’s office with broken penis,” says Hong. “But it’s an emergency.”

Since the penis’ membrane is such a key part of getting and maintaining an erection, if a penile fracture isn’t fixed immediately, a man can eventually have issues with erectile dysfunction, says Shin. Even when treated promptly, some penises form scar tissue after healing. If that scar tissue becomes severe enough, it can cause what’s known as Peyronie’s disease, or an extremely curved penis that makes it hard to have sex, says Shin. That’s rare, though, and it’s really the only way this kind of injury can affect a man’s fertility, he explains.

Most people who experience a penile fracture make a full recovery. “If it’s addressed appropriately and repaired in a timely manner, most men don’t have problems with long-term functionality,” says Shin. If you ever find yourself with a penile fracture on your hands (or between your legs), remember that very important fact—then locate the nearest ER.

You might have read Dennis Rodman’s cringe-worthy account of how “there was blood everywhere” and a “crack” when he broke his penis during sex, on three separate occasions, according to a report. This isn’t necessarily the stuff of sensationalized journalism or nightmares, though. It’s very possible to “break” your penis.

We spoke with Brian Christine, M.D., a urologist with and the Urology Centers of Alabama to cover everything you need to know to protect your manhood. If you didn’t read Rodman’s graphic account, go to for the full story.

What happens when you “break” your penis?

Okay, so you’re not technically breaking your penis; you’re deaing with a penile fracture. And while it’s rare, Christine says it’s not unusual.

When your penis is erect, it’s engorged with blood. But if it’s bent suddenly or forcefully, typically during sex, that force can cause a fracture. Now, fractures are usually synonymous with bones. And even though your penis can get a boner, there aren’t any bones in it. When you fracture your penis, you actually tear the deeper tissue. “There are two cylinders of sponge-like tissue in your penis called the corporal body—that’s what fills up with blood to give you an erection,” Christine says. “There’s a layer of pretty tough tissue that surrounds the corporal body and that layer is called the tunic, which is what gets ruptured during vigorous intercourse,” he adds.

How do you know if you’ve fractured your penis?

You’ll hear a pop or a crack, which is the rupturing of the tunic, followed by excruciating pain in your penis, Christine says. Since the tunic controls when you get hard or soft, you’ll immediately lose your erection now that it’s been severed. “Sometimes the penis will look like an eggplant—that’s how swollen and black and blue it can get,” Christine says. There’s high hydraulic pressure in the corporal body that makes your penis rigid, so when you tear that tissue a lot of blood leaks out—sometimes it’s even visible at the urinary opening of the penis (as Rodman described). These are the telltale signs.

“Some guys come in and say they were having sex, their penis slipped out, and there was some pressure because they thrust their penis into bone, but there was no pop or signs of bruising,” Christine says. This isn’t much cause for concern. Trust us: You’ll know if you’ve fractured your penis.

What should you do if you’ve fractured your penis?

You need to see a physician or a urologist immediately. If it’s nighttime, when these cases often occur, go to the emergency room. You need to be seen immediately—your penis and its ability to have healthy, normal erections depends on it.

“It’s a surgical fix,” Christine says. Surgeons need to sew that laceration of tissue back together. “If you get to the operating room quickly and suture up the tear, that will give you the best chance to recover sexual function and will prevent the formation of scar tissue in the tunic, called peyronie’s disease,” Christine says. That scar tissue can cause really severe curvature or a bend in your penis when it becomes erect.

What are the most dangerous sex positions?

The sex positions that lend itself to a penile fracture the most are woman on top, doggie, and anal where she’s on her hands and knees and you’re entering from behind. “Imagine she’s on top, things are getting pretty vigorous, and your penis slips out,” Christine says. “What happens is she settles back down with all her weight on your penis and it, instead of being in her vagina, is bent on her pubic bone.” It’s this violent bending of your erect penis that causes a rupture or a tear.

How can you reduce your risk?

Christine doesn’t suggest you avoid those positions. These are great positions! But he does recommend you be more cognizant when you’re doing them. “You don’t want your penis to slip out of her vagina or anus and thrust into her,” he says. “Keep your hands on her hips when she’s on top so you can control her speed and weight if things get a little out of control,” he suggests. And when you’re entering her from behind, build up a slower rhythm so you’re not jack-hammering (which, by the way, isn’t conducive to getting her off anyway); this will help prevent your penis from slipping out, buckling, and tearing if you thrust into her and getting bent out of shape—literally.

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Ever since heartthrob television doctor Mark Sloan had a sexual mishap on last night’s episode of TV hit show Grey’s Anatomy, bloggers around the globe have been buzzing about a bizarre and horrifying condition called “broken penis syndrome”. For those who didn’t catch last night’s hot and steamy love scene between Sloan (played by actor Eric Dane) and “intern” Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), be advised: it ended painfully—very painfully. At least for Sloan, who suffered a severe injury to his manhood, which prompted a slew of rumors among hospital staff about which woman “broke Sloan’s penis,” according to ABC’s online recap of the episode.
Given that there are no bones in the penis, can it really break? It turns out there is an unfortunate injury termed “penile fracture” that can indeed occur during sexual intercourse. We asked Hunter Wessells, chair of the urology department at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle (also home to the show’s Grace Hospital), to describe the condition and how it can happen.

What exactly is broken penis syndrome?
It’s what we call penile fracture. It is a severe form of bending injury to the erect penis that occurs when a membrane called the tunica albuginea tears. The tunica albuginea surrounds the corpora cavernosa, specialized spongy tissue in the core of the penis that fills up with blood during an erection. When the tunica albuginea tears, the blood that is normally confined to this space leaks out into other tissues. You get bruising and swelling.
What are the signs of penile fracture?
Usually there will be a popping sound. If someone has severe pain (in the penis), especially associated with bruising, swelling and loss of erection, he should seek emergency care.
How exactly does penile fracture happen?
Any situation during intercourse when there is thrusting and when the penis, instead of penetrating its normal location, is hitting some solid structure (such as the perineum). Usually this occurs during regular vaginal sex with the woman on top, but it can happen in the missionary position or during sexual acrobatics. We had this patient who suffered penile fracture after running across the room and trying to penetrate his wife with a flying leap.
What can doctors do to fix the tear?
We put the person on general anesthesia and open up the skin through one or more incisions in the penis. Then we find the edge of the tear and close it up with sutures. Sometimes these tears are extensive and span half the circumference of the penis (usually the tears are crosswise), requiring about 10 stitches. Then we close everything up. The operation takes about an hour, and most people go home right after. Most can resume sex in about a month (after the wound has healed).
What happens if you don’t get this operation?
There are probably some cases in which you can get away with not operating on it but, in general, you will be more likely to have future complications. Partial or complete tearing of the tunica albuginea can lead to long-term scarring, and the buildup of scar tissue can lead to erectile dysfunction or penile deviations, such as chronic curvature of the penis (causing an erection that bends sideways—sometimes at a 45-degree angle).
How common is penile fracture, and who is most likely to suffer from it?
We don’t have any incidence data like that, but we know there are many case reports in the literature. I’ve seen dozens of cases (in 20 years of working as a physician). At the University of Washington’s Harborview Medical Center here in Seattle, we see one or two cases per month.*
Young men in their 20s and 30s, who tend to be engaged in more vigorous sexual activity face the highest risk, but we do see it in men in their 40s and 50s. (The latter’s lower risk) might be because older men have decreased frequency and vigor of sexual activity and the tissue in their penises tends not to get quite as rigid.
If the penis bends but the tunica albuginea doesn’t tear, could this lead to injury as well?
There are probably many men who have had the experience of missing the penetration spot and bending the penis. Most of these cases are nothing to worry about. But there are some people who have bending injuries (but not full-blown tears) who may go on to develop Peyronie’s disease, a condition in which the penis is bent due to the buildup of scar tissue, but it’s not yet clear whether this is the cause of the disease.

*Note (1/26/09): This sentence has been modified to correct an error.

Yes, You Can Break Your Penis. And It’s as Awful as it Sounds

Cards on the table, guys—penile fracture is a rough topic. If you’re squeamish, maybe this one’s not for you—because yes, you can break your penis. And yes, it really is as awful as it sounds. For those brave enough to continue, here’s everything you need to know about a broken penis including, how it happens, what it sounds like (seriously), and what you can do if this unfortunate turn of events ever happens to you.

How Your Penis Works

To understand how you can break your penis, you have to know a little about the general structure of the penis and how erections work. Despite all the charming euphemisms, your penis doesn’t actually contain any bones or cartilage. Instead, the penis is made up of very vascular, spongy tissue that’s supplied by a lot of blood flow.

When you get an erection, arteries in the penis open while other veins contract to allow more blood in than flows out—up to 6x the normal amount. This causes that spongy tissue to engorge and stiffen. In fact, tissue in the penis would expand endlessly if it weren’t contained by something. Fortunately, the penis has a strong, white sheath of fibrous tissue called the tunica albuginea surrounding the dual spongy, blood filled tubes (Corpus Cavernosum) and the Corpus spongiosum.

This sheath—the tunica albuginea—is what allows a penis to become rigid enough to penetrate a partner. And it has to be incredibly strong to contain this swelling, pressure, and the force of penetration.

Under Pressure: How Your “Penis Sheath” Works

Just how strong is the tunica albuginea? Well, normal blood pressure is around 120/80 (measured in mm of mercury of pressure), and high blood pressure is anything above 135. Anything above 200mm is high enough to rupture blood vessels in your brain. The tunica albuginea can handle almost eight times (1,500mm) that amount of pressure.

Your penis can handle 8x more blood pressure than blood vessels in your brain

Moreover, while the tunica is very flexible and thick when the penis is flaccid—about 2 mm thick—it’s only about .5 mm thick when the penis becomes erect.

Erections are complicated. The penis is a blood filled tube of soft muscle that becomes hard only because it is tightly contained by a tough piece of tissue that is under enormous strain when erect. One wrong move, one odd snap or twist, one misplaced forceful thrust, and that tissue can tear with surprising force.

The Sound of a Broken Penis

The sudden tearing of that sheath is the same as popping a balloon with the prick of a pin. Blood rushes through that tiny opening to the surface of the penis, and in a very real sense the penis explodes in the area of the tear. This is why breaking a penis is usually accompanied by a loud “popping” sound or a crackling noise and excruciating pain.

Without getting too into the specifics, breaking your penis typically results in:

  • A loud pop
  • Rapid loss of the erection
  • Swelling and severe bruising
  • Excruciating pain (it’s worth mentioning again)

In some cases penile fracture can tear blood vessels and even sever the urethra.

Fixing a Broken Penis: Surgery

In almost every case, a broken penis requires surgery to repair the damage.

Long term complications of penile fracture can include scarring, a bent penis, erectile dysfunction, and difficulty with urination or orgasms. Penile fracture is a serious injury with potentially lifelong consequences. That’s why it’s important you take a deep breath, and keep reading if you want to learn how to prevent breaking your penis.

And the first stop on this journey is surprisingly, Iran.

Iran: Land of Broken Penises

While penile fracture happens to men everywhere, Iran leads the world in penile fractures thanks to a little known practice called taqaandan. Meaning “to click” in Kurdish, men in the region of Kermanshah, Iran engage in a behavior that can only be described as a forceful “twanging” of the penis.

Essentially, these men grab the base of their penis and bend the top portion rapidly to one side. This leads to a rapid loss of an erection, accompanied by a loud “pop.” Amazingly, this practice isn’t typically described as “painful.” Nevertheless, penises in Iran are subject to the same laws of physics and biology as everywhere else, and an unusually high number of men in Iran fracture their penises.

Of the hundreds of men seen in one center, about 40% said they practiced taqaandan because it was a “habit.” Others did it to overcome an erection or unwanted desires. However, about a quarter of the men surveyed found it “pleasurable,” “refreshing,” or simply “enjoyed the sound.” And you thought cracking your knuckles was bad.

But “penile manipulation” while fascinating (and widespread outside of Iran), isn’t the leading cause of penile fracture. That honor belongs to sex, particularly two notoriously “dangerous” positions.

Two Sex Positions that Can Break Your Penis

According to a 2014 study from Advances in Urology, “Heterosexual intercourse (~66%) is the most common cause of penile fracture, followed by “penile manipulation (15%).” “Woman on top” was the most common position to cause penile fracture (50%), followed by “doggy style” at 29%.

“Cowgirl” is the sex position most associated with a broken penis

A similar study found that sex was responsible for penile fracture 75% of the time. The other 25% of cases involved masturbation, blunt trauma, or falls (such as falling out of bed). While not exhaustive, the research seems to show that the greatest risk for severe penile fracture—one where both sides of the penis pop under pressure and where the urethra is torn—results from sex in the “doggy style” and “partner on top” positions.

However, it’s not all bad news for your favorite position. The culprit behind a broken penis may be “where” and ‘with whom’ you have sex rather than the positions themselves.

Sex Under “Stressful Situations”

A Journal of Sexual Medicine study found that, “Penile fracture patients appear to be a unique population of men who are having sexual intercourse under stressful situations. Extramarital affairs and out‐of‐the‐ordinary locations appear common in patients sustaining this relatively rare injury.”

Of the sixteen patients with an acute penile fracture, seven were in the midst of an extramarital affair. Two fractures happened in the backseat of a car. Another two occurred in a bathroom, and three were sustained while having sex at work. One was even in an elevator. The unusual places may have meant unfamiliar physical positions, and the illicit nature of the sex may have made it more hurried and unusually excited.

If sex is beginning to strain the limits of your usual physical capacity, slow things down. There’s nothing sexy about a broken penis. Nothing at all.

Penile Fracture is Scary, but Rare

Just the mention of “breaking your penis” is enough to turn most men’s stomachs. However, the reality is that penile fracture is exceedingly rare. The sheath around your soft tissue is durable and can handle extensive pressure and stress. So unless you’re engaging in particularly aggressive sex—in general—your penis should be just fine.

Geek Out: More Broken Penis Resources

● The elasticity and the tensile strength of tunica albuginea of the corpora cavernosa (J Urol)
● Penile fracture in Kermanshah, Iran: report of 172 cases (J Urol)
● Mechanisms Predisposing Penile Fracture and Long-Term Outcomes on Erectile and Voiding Functions (Adv Urol)
● Relationship between sexual position and severity of penile fracture (J Sex Med)

Dr. Michael Reitano is the Physician in Residence for Roman Health. A former professor at NYU, he’s a nationally recognized physician specializing in sexual health and wellness. Founding editor of Sexual Health Magazine, and author—his clinical research has been published in prestigious medical journals.

Is it Possible for a Man to Break his Penis?

Yes. It is possible for a man to “break” his penis, but not in the same way as you would otherwise break a bone, such as your wrist, since a penis does not contain any bones. However, there is a “break” that can take place in a man’s erect penis that my feel similar to a fracture. It can cause extreme pain.

Typically, with a penile fracture a loud cracking sound can be heard (but not always), and the man will lose his erection right away.

The main roles of the penis are to carry urine out of the body and sperm into the woman’s vagina. There are 3 tubes inside the penis. One is called the urethra. It’s hollow and carries urine from the bladder through the penis to the outside. The other 2 tubes are called the corpora cavernosa. These are soft, spongy tubes that fill with blood to make the penis stiff during an erection. During sex, the stiffness of the penis makes it hard enough to push into the woman’s vagina.

If at some point during an erection, a man sustains a level of unnatural force to the penis, with much more energy than the normal force associated with sexual activity, a break or fracture may occur.

For example, this type of “pressure overload” to the penis could occur during sexual intercourse if the man were to slip and make contact with his partner’s perineum. The perineum is the area between the anus and the scrotum or vulva. It could also be caused by a slip or fall while a man has an erection.

Seek immediate medical attention if it is suspected you have “broken” your penis. This is because surgery may be needed to repair the tissue in the penis, and as time ticks on, scarring can form in the tissue. This may increase the possibility of complications from the injury.

Dr. Tobias Köhler is a urologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., with specialty interest and fellowship training in men’s health (andrology).

Can you really break your penis?

Just in case you thought it was an urban legend, the rumours are true — although it’s uncommon, it is possible to break your penis. Below, we answer all of your questions about penis fracture, and how you can prevent it from happening to you.

How does it happen?

There aren’t any actual bones in your boner, so it’s not the same kind of injury as breaking your arm – it’s technically a tear in the part of your penis known as the tunica albuginea. The tunica albuginea is a dense layer of tissue that surrounds the sponge-like tissue of the penis. During an erection, this sponge-like tissue fills with blood and the tunica albuginea becomes very thin, meaning that with enough force, it can tear.

The injury is called a penile fracture, and it usually happens when an erect penis sustains some kind of force trauma — typically during sex when your partner bends the penis too far back, or you hit your partner’s tailbone while thrusting.

Who is most at risk?

It’s a very small risk. But basically, anyone who has a penis and can achieve an erection could break it. Sorry.

Penile fractures can only happen when you have an erection though, as when you are flaccid, it’s far more flexible and able to withstand surprise bumps and knocks.

What are the symptoms?

If you’ve fractured your penis, you’ll know about it straight away. Trust us. You’ll be in a considerable amount of pain. You’ll lose your erection right away, and it’s likely your penis will take on a shade of purple, or blue bruises. You may also notice blood in your pee.

MORE: Can you really get chlamydia from a toilet seat? And other myth busting STI truths

What to do if it happens to you

Despite the humorous way it’s been portrayed in popular culture, penile fractures are no laughing matter. It’s a serious injury which, if not immediately treated, can lead to long-term sexual dysfunction problems.

If it happens to you, it’s important you go to the nearest hospital and seek emergency treatment as soon as possible. This is your penis we are talking about, after all.

When you present to emergency, a doctor will likely confirm the penile fracture via an MRI or an urethrogram, which is an x-ray of your penis. If that’s indeed what’s happened you’ll need to have surgery so that the doctor can close the tear. You’ll be relieved to hear that all this is done under general anesthetic, so you won’t feel a thing.

After the surgery, you’ll have to rest your penis for at least a month, making sure to position it lying upwards on your belly, and applying ice packs when required. You also may have to take anti-androgens to block painful erections from occurring.

Can you recover from a penis fracture?

If you seek treatment straight away, the good news is that the consequences of a penile fracture are actually quite minimal. Studies show that 92% of men will make a full recovery and resume a healthy, if a little more careful, sex life.

However if medical help is delayed, a penile fracture can lead to trouble getting and maintaining an erection, among other things.

MORE: Why millennials are having less sex than other generations

How to avoid it

Penile fractures are rare, but if you’d rather avoid your penis going under the knife, there are some practical ways you can reduce the chances of sustaining this unpleasant injury. Most importantly, taking extra care when having sex in certain positions.

A study published in the journal Advances in Urology, found that the most common way men sustain penile fractures is when your partner is on top, or in the “cowgirl/boy” position. The most common way this happens is when the partner arches back too far, either overextending the penis or bending it by bringing their body weight down at an awkward angle. Ouch.

A Brazilian study found that doggy-style could also put you at risk — finding that thrusting from behind increases your chance of hitting your partner’s perineum or tailbone which could lead to a penis injury.

It’s important to keep in mind that penile fractures are really uncommon — there have only been roughly 1,600 cases ever recorded — so it’s not something you should feel preoccupied about every time you have sex (talk about a mood killer!).

For the average male, simply exercising common sense is enough to prevent these kinds of injuries from happening. And remember, if sex is hurting — say something! It’s not unmanly to want to slow down a bit, your partner likely wants to make sure your penis is having as good of a time as you are.

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