You may be surprised to learn that there are a number of things you don’t know about your penis. Here are a few surprising and not-so-surprising revelations about this key part of the male anatomy.
Although you’ve grown up together, you probably don’t know as much about your penis as you think you do, considering the close relationship you’ve had for so many years. Here are some eye-opening facts about your penis that might surprise you.
Your Penis Can Break
Although you’ve probably had your fair share of so-called boners, you already know that the penis itself has no bones. However, if twisted violently enough during an erection, your penis can indeed be broken. In the aftermath of such a traumatic injury, the tubes within the penis that fill with blood to create an erection can burst. When they burst, the blood within them floods out into the penis and causes a very painful swelling, stresses the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.
While such penile fractures are rarely reported, it is believed that such mishaps occur more frequently than the reported data would suggest, because men finding themselves in such a predicament are too embarrassed to seek treatment. According to the NHS, roughly one-third of all such penile fractures occur during sex when the partner is on top, the man’s penis slips out of his partner and is violently bent.
‘Use It or Lose It’ Is for Real
To stay healthy and in optimal working order, your penis is just like every other part of your body in its need for regular exercise. And erections provide just the type of support the penis needs, according to Tobia S. Kohler, M.D., associate professor of urology at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine. And Kohler points to an even more frightening result for men who don’t heed this advice. “If they don’t do anything to maintain normal erections,” says Kohler, “they will get shortening of the penis,” pointing out that in the absence of real exercise penile tissue becomes less elastic and shrinks by as much as 1 to 2 centimeters.
If your love life has been somewhat barren of late but your penis remains capable of erection, there’s no need to become unduly alarmed, says Kohler. He tells WebMD that male brains have an automatic penis maintenance function built in. During the REM (rapid-eye movement) phase of sleep, the period during which you’re likely to dream, impulses from the brain cause your penis to get hard. It’s a phenomenon known as nocturnal penile tumescence, and it occurs roughly three to five times a night in healthy men.
Penis Length Isn’t Linked to Foot Size
For those who have labored under the mistaken impression that there’s some sort of truth to the expression “big feet, big meat,” the British Journal of Urology International published a 2002 article about a scientific study disproving the theory. According to BBC News, researchers at University College London concluded there is no scientific basis to the theory after measuring the relevant vital parts of more than 100 men. Participants in this study were 104 men who visited a London urology clinic. They ranged in age from their teens to retirement age but as a group had an average age of 54.
Is It a ‘Grower’ or a ‘Show-er’?
In what may be welcome news for men with inferior-sized flaccid penises, WebMD reports that “there is no consistent relationship between the size of the flaccid penis and its full erect length.” It may be little comfort to those who feel a bit under-endowed when compared with other guys in the locker room, but researchers discovered that increases in penile length from the flaccid to erect state vary sharply, from less than a quarter-inch to more than 3.5 inches. So while the guy next to you in the shower might have an impressive flaccid penis, it’s quite possible that his erect penis will be only a little bit larger than it is while flaccid, while yours might add much more significantly to its length upon erection.
Smoking Can Shorten Your Penis
According to a July 1998 article by John Illman, medical correspondent of The Guardian, a Boston University research study found that smoking can shrink the size of your penis. And that, of course, is only one of the adverse effects that smoking can have on your penis. The BU study found that smoking can shorten the length of an erect penis by as much as a centimeter. Nicotine narrows the blood vessels that supply the penis, thus causing damage to the penile tissue known as elastin, which plays a key role in the erectile process. Smoking’s continuing damage to blood flow also can eventually lead to serious erection problems, according to Pedram Salimpour M.D., lead author of the study.
Don’t Make Decisions When Your Penis Is Erect
Contrary to a widespread rumor, men don’t really think with their penises. However, an article at MensHealth.com reports that men’s decision-making skills when the penis is erect often leave a lot to be desired. The article cites a 2005 study by scientists at MIT and Carnegie Mellon University in which 35 men answered the same survey questions first in a relaxed state and again “while masturbating to what the researchers called ‘a high but sub-orgasmic level of arousal.’ ”
When the men were sexually aroused, they tended to rate virtually everything the scientists asked about as much more sexually attractive. Topics for which the scientists sought ratings ranged from the mundane to more erotic matters and included women’s shoes, the smell of cigarette smoke, and the idea of a threesome made up of two guys and one girl.
Study participants were also asked about the lengths to which they would go to get laid. And in the presence of the boner, their replies ran the gamut from a simple declaration of “I love you” to their partner to admissions that they might try to get their partner drunk to achieve their goal.
Penile Sensitivity Declines with Age
Although hardly as surprising as some of the foregoing revelations, the fact that penile sensitivity begins to decline at the age of 25 is a bit of a shocker. Determining just how much it declines over time is difficult because scientific study of the matter has not been standardized, meaning that researchers have used varying stimuli and ways of measuring the degree of stimulation, according to WebMD.
Although studies have found that penile sensitivity begins a slow decline at roughly age 25, the sharpest rate of decline seems to occur between the ages of 65 and 75. SIU urologist Kohler tells WebMD that his patients rarely mention the decline in sensitivity, making it difficult to determine if they really notice it at all or simply choose not to discuss it. “It’s a super-rare complaint,” says Kohler, while noting that complaints about erection and ejaculation problems are far more common.
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Don Amerman is a freelance author who writes extensively about a wide array of nutrition and health-related topics.
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