Learning About Penile Fracture

What is a penile fracture?

The penis has two tubes that fill with blood when a man has an erection. A lot of pressure or force on an erect penis can cause one of the tubes to pop, like a balloon or tire. This is called a penile fracture. Sometimes, it sounds like something has broken even though the penis does not have a bone in it.

A penile fracture can be very painful. As blood escapes from the tear in one of the tubes, the penis starts to bruise. It also changes shape.

A penile fracture is most often caused by active sex or long periods of sexual activity.

The doctor will do a physical examination and may do some other tests to see if any other areas of the body were injured. These areas include the tube that carries urine out of the body (urethra) and other parts of the penis.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • A popping or cracking sound, followed by sudden loss of erection.
  • Pain in the penis.
  • Dark bruising and swelling of the penis.
  • A bent shape to the penis.
  • Trouble urinating.

How is a penile fracture treated?

Surgery is often needed to fix a penile fracture. Doctors try to do the surgery as soon as possible to help the penis look normal and work as it should. Surgery can help prevent later problems like scarring and problems with erections.

During surgery, the doctor will make a cut (incision) to remove the extra blood in the penis. Then the doctor will repair the damaged tissue and blood vessels.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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