While it is quite normal for the penis to swell with blood during sexual arousal to form an erection, the other soft tissues in the structure of the penis can become swollen due to injury. While it is quite normal for the penis to swell with blood during sexual arousal to form an erection, the other soft tissues in the structure of the penis can become swollen due to injury.
The penis and scrotum have very sensitive skin that can become inflamed and swollen after an injury. More rarely, the shaft or head of the penis can appear swollen from fluid tracking down from the abdomen due to gravity.
Causes of penis swelling and injury
Injuries to the penis can include scratches and bites, knocks, burns, or internal injury from objects inserted into the urethra. Sometimes contact with creams and lotions that cause a local allergic reaction can cause painful swelling.
You can fracture your penis if too much force is put on it while it’s erect. You might hear a crack or a pop, followed by bruising and pain. A fractured penis needs urgent surgery, preferably within six hours of the fracture.
The penis can also become hard and swollen due to Peyronie’s disease. The condition can cause the penis to be painful, bent or less flexible. Peyronie’s disease usually gets better on its own.
Penile fractures are the result of rupture of the tunica albuginea. They are fairly rare and can co-occur with partial or complete urethral rupture, though this is rare. Urethral damage occurs in 10–38% of cases. Fractures are treated with emergency surgery, and can be diagnosed with ultrasound, especially in pediatric cases. Penile fractures are caused by trauma to the erect penis, typically by suddenly bending it laterally during penetrative intercourse with the receptive partner on top of the penetrating partner, or during masturbation.
They can be diagnosed by the “eggplant sign” and are characterized by a loud popping sound at the time of the injury, the result of the tunica albuginea rupturing. Other symptoms include severe pain, loss of erection, and swelling. Symptoms of urethral injury include hematuria, blood at the meatus, and dysuria. If left untreated, complications result in 28–53% of cases; these include permanent curvature of the penis, fistula, urethral diverticulum , Priapism , and erectile dysfunction
Types of Genital Injuries in Males
- The penis and scrotum are exposed. In young boys, the scrotum is injured more often than the penis. All the common skin injuries can occur here.
- Cut. Minor cuts or scrapes heal quickly.
- Bruise. Minor bruises heal quickly.
- Zipper Injury. The foreskin or skin on the penis can get caught on a zipper. Most parents will want a doctor to help with removal.
- Urethral Injury Serious. The urethra passes through the entire penis. It can be injured by a kick to the groin or a straddle injury. The urethra can be bruised or torn. The main symptoms are bloody urine and trouble passing urine.
- Painful Scrotum. A blow to the testicle will normally cause severe pain. If there was no damage, the pain should go away within 30 minutes. If it persists, the boy needs to be examined.
- Swollen Scrotum Serious. Any boy with a swollen scrotum from an injury needs to be examined. It may be minor, but need to rule out any other problems.
- Hematoma Blood Clot of Scrotum. Blunt trauma can cause a large blood clot to form inside the scrotum. Sometimes, it needs to be drained. This can happen from being hit by a ball during sports. The main finding is severe pain and a swollen scrotum.
- Rupture of Testicle Serious. A direct blow to the scrotum can also cause a tear of the capsule around the testicle. To save the testicle, this needs emergency surgery. This can happen from a kick to the groin. The main finding is severe pain and a swollen scrotum.
- An injury to the groin from falling on an object that is being straddled.
- Examples are playground equipment, crossbars of a bike, or a fence.
- In boys with a straddle injury, the urethra can be bruised or torn. The urethra allows urine to pass from the bladder to the outside.
- A symptom of a damaged urethra is blood at the penis opening. Other findings are bloody urine, trouble starting the stream or pain when passing urine.
The following are common penis injuries:
Cuts Sure, the most notorious penile injury is no doubt the complete severing of the organ, as made infamous by Lorena Bobbitt. But a far more common injury can occur when a guy accidentally catches his penis in his pants zipper, a la There’s Something About Mary. Painful? Yes, but such a cut is usually minor and heals relatively quickly, though a man should refrain from sex and may need to take antibiotics to prevent infection in the meantime.
Bruises Anything that involves blunt force trauma to the genitals in can injure and bruise a man’s penis and scrotum. The most common cause is a kick or knee to the groin, either in a fight or accidentally during sports. If he does get bruised, an icepack and rest will usually help him heal. Most guys are all too familiar with that nauseous feeling that comes after getting kicked in the genitals. But if he has worsening pain or swelling, or the nausea continues for more than an hour or so, he should get prompt medical attention, since testicles can get ruptured.
Fractures When women worry about hurting a man’s penis, this is usually their big fear. So can you really “break” a penis? Well, sort of. What we call a “fracture” is actually a tear in one of the tube-like structures in the penis that hold blood during an erection. It typically occurs during intercourse, when your pelvic bone bumps his erect penis too hard and his erection gets bent accidentally (you’re on top of him and come down too vigorously, for example).
In addition to severe pain, his penis may curve abnormally and he may have difficulty urinating or having intercourse. He may also have significant swelling of the penis and dark, reddish-purple discoloration as the blood fills the space underneath the skin. If the outer skin breaks also, he could have a considerable amount of bleeding. Our advice: Be careful! If you do suspect a fracture, get him to the emergency room immediately; surgery is often necessary to prevent permanent problems.
Chafing Anything that causes rubbing against the skin of the penis can result in rawness and irritation. Vigorous masturbation without lube, going commando in pants with rough material, or rug/sheet burns can all result in chafing. Avoiding friction on the area usually allows things to clear up in a day or two.
Looking after yourself
If you have penis swelling or injury, here’s how you can look after yourself.
- Any cuts or grazes can be temporarily covered with a clean, dry dressing or cotton handkerchief.
- Loosely covering the area with clean cling film is a good alternative to a dressing, and is especially useful if the area has been burnt.
- Do not apply any creams, lotions or homemade remedies to any wounds.
- If there is any bleeding, apply direct pressure with the finger tips for at least 10 minutes.
- Do not wrap anything around the penis or scrotum, such as a bandage, tourniquet or sticky tape.
- Do not try to remove any foreign body since, this may cause more damage or serious bleeding. It is very important that a foreign body is removed only by a doctor.
- If there is anything tight around the penis or scrotum, this should be removed immediately, as long as you can do so without causing any injury to yourself.
- Protect the area as much as possible to prevent further damage or injury when going to see your doctor or to hospital.
- An ice pack may relieve swelling, but it should not be placed directly against the skin. Try wrapping a bag of frozen peas in a cloth, such as a clean tea towel, and mould this around the swollen area.
- If you are in pain, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on medicines you can take.
Suspicion of deliberate injury
If you have any suspicions that the injury was inflicted – on purpose – and not the result of an accident, you should seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. This could be a nurse or doctor at an emergency department, or a doctor’s surgery, or a health visitor or school nurse.
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