Sex feels so darn good! And it’s also associated a wide range of health benefits leaving you feeling and looking your best. But even if you practice safer sex, you may want to be mindful of some of the common (and not so common) injuries that remind us that sometimes love really is a battlefield.
Believe it or not, McSteamy and Grey’s Anatomy weren’t exaggerating. You can break a penis — as long as it is hard at the time. While even the toughest boner contains no actual bones, the penis does contain tubes that fill with blood during an erection. It is the lining of these tubes, the tunica albuginea, that can rupture in response to heavy trauma or bending. This may happen during intercourse when the penis is severely bent or is thrust into the pelvic bone or another hard surface.
One client described his experience with penile rupture:
“She climbed on top. While thrusting her hips back in forth against my rhythm she decided to lean back without communicating this to me and I was not prepared for her quick descent backward. I knew it was broken.”
A broken penis is often accompanied by a snapping sound and dark bruising and it is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Complications, including erectile issues, may result if left untreated.
Penile fractures are relatively uncommon, so you can still have fun doing lots of thrusting, bending and playing in the bedroom (or hanging from the chandelier). Just be wary of any quick movements that might bend the shaft excessively and communicate with your partner if anything feels uncomfortable.
Muscle strains are common during any type of physical activity and sex is no exception. Considering the fact that you can burn 200 calories in a 30-minute sex session (who has a full 30 minutes these days though?) it’s no surprise that many people report sex as the cause of sprain injuries. And since sexual arousal can release endorphins that reduce the experience of pain, many people don’t realize they’re hurt until after the sex session is over.
To help prevent muscle strains, pick sex positions that come naturally and don’t feel pressure to be a human contortionist in bed. If something feels uncomfortable, make a small adjustment like changing the angle of your hips or using your partner’s hands to help support you. And of course, exercise regularly, stay hydrated and do your best to warm-up before engaging in physical activity.
Rug Burn, Bumps, and Bruises
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to smack your head against the headboard or scrape your knees along the carpet. Many of these injuries can be prevented by purchasing a bunch of pillows and creating a soft nest in and around your bed. Not only do pillows provide padding for soft landings, but they’re also discrete sex toys that can be used to play with new positions. Pillow shopping will take on a new meaning as you add to your collection!
Beyond your typical bumps and bruises, here are a few injuries that I’ve come across in my travels as a sexologist:
“One time when were getting it on in the shower, I pulled the faucet right out of the wall and it landed on my foot leaving a nice big welt.” (Andrea, 24 years old.)
“It was my first time using a Hitachi magic wand and the orgasms were so intense that I pulled a muscle in my neck. A student at the time, I spent the next few days making up excuses for why I had trouble looking up at the instructor’s notes.” (Thanks to Dr. Ruthie for sharing this story.)
“I’ve always been a dog person, but my disdain for cats was solidified during an encounter with my ex-girlfriend. Right in the heat of the moment, her white cat leaped onto the bed and scratched my butt across both cheeks. I jumped up and pushed it off the bed and to add insult to injury, my ex got mad at me for being rough with her kitty.” (Chris, 22 years old.)
Remember that time you had to go to the emergency room because you got a toy car lodged in your bum? Yeah. Me neither. Because we know that if you are going to insert objects into your anus, you should use smooth edged toys with a flared base to ensure that it doesn’t get lost in the maze of your intestines. Lube is also essential to sex play, as it helps to minimize friction and reduce the risk of smalls tears that can lead to infection.
Toys can definitely add spice to your safer sex life, but some materials are more health-friendly than others.
How Common Are Sex Injuries?
We don’t have comprehensive statistics on how many emergency room visits actually result from sexual activity, but one study suggests that at least a third of adults suffer some form of injury from sex each year. And while the less serious injuries might make for a good laugh or two, many of these injuries can be prevented with a bit of preparation and improved communication between partners. So this Valentine’s Day, maybe it’s time to drop the old flowers and chocolate routine and get creative with your gift giving with some new pillows, lube and toys.
If you have a memorable, odd or funny sex injury you’re willing to share, we’d love to hear from you!