It’s one sound you never want to hear during sex: an audible snap. That’s what one 47-year-old man from the United Kingdom experienced while having sex with his partner.
He remained erect afterward, and was able to finish the deed, but the next day, he noticed bruising on his scrotum and penis, and saw blood in the bowl when he peed, according to the case report published in BMJ Case Reports.
It also hurt to urinate, too.
So he went to the emergency room. His penis was swollen and spongy when doctors examined him, and that, along with his symptoms, made them immediately think he had a penis fracture.
As we’ve reported many times in the past, it’s true that you can fracture your penis during sex. When your erect penis experiences some kind of force—say, you accidentally hit your partner’s perineum while thrusting during sex—it can lead to pressure overload. As a result, the thin, connective tissue that surrounds your erectile tissue, or your corpus cavernosa, can tear.
But this man’s condition was a little different than the typical penis fracture: Along with the injury to his corpus cavernosa, he also hurt his urethra.
The urethra is the thin tube in your penis where urine travels out of your body. In some cases of penile fracture, especially with severe rupture, the injury can extend to your urethra, causing trauma or tearing.
Usually, this occurs near the site of the tear to the corpus cavernosa, according to a separate study in the Canadian Urological Association Journal.
It’s this urethra rupture that caused the urinary symptoms the man was experiencing, such as blood in the urine and pain when peeing. Other symptoms of a urinary tear can include blood at the meatus, or the opening, of your penis, and difficulty urinating.
Still, a urethra tear with penile fracture is relatively rare, occurring in just about 10 to 20 percent of all penis fractures, according the to case report.
Another way this man’s penis fracture was different? He was able to finish sex.
Usually, you’ll lose your erection right away: Think of what happens when you stick a pin in a blown-up balloon, Jacob Rajfer, M.D., professor of urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, told us in the past. It’ll deflate, fast.
Sounds serious, right? It is: Penile fractures can cause lasting effects if they’re not treated right away. If you wait too long, scar tissue can form, leading to a curvature of your penis, or even difficulty getting an erection in the first place.
Plus, if your penile fracture damaged your urethra too, you may be at risk of other side effects, including urethral stricture. That’s a narrowing of the tube, usually by scar tissue, which can make it hard to pee. (In fact, Jimmy Kimmel once revealed he had a urethral stricture.)
Thankfully, the man went to the hospital the next day, where he was able to get treatment—doctors surgically repaired the tear to his corpus cavernosa and closed up the rupture in his urethra. A follow-up after 14 days showed that his urethra healed.
Bottom line: If you think you broke your penis—if you heard an audible snap or pop during sex, your penis swelled and bruised, or you feel lots of pain—hit the ER, stat. Your prognosis is pretty good if you get it fixed within 72 hours, Dr. Rajfer told us.