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I've torn the frenulum on my penis and now it's bleeding - and it won't heal. What do I do?

(Frenulum breve)

Q: I was having some really hot sex last week when I felt this incredible knife-like pain. When I pulled out of my girl, there was blood everywhere. A quick inspection of my penis revealed that my frenulum had snapped - and it hasn't healed since. Every time we try and have sex, it starts bleeding again. What do I do now?

A: First of all, the frenulum (or "banjo string") is the skin band that links the foreskin and the skin of the penile shaft.

In some men who have been circumcised at birth, or those who have hypospadias, there may be no frenulum at all. That's a bit unfortunate, because it's the most sensitive part of the penis. (If you want more information on the issues around circumcision, try these websites: Foreskin.org Circumstitions   New Foreskin.biz) 

The frenulum tethers the foreskin to the shaft skin of your penis. When it works correctly, it is long enough to allow the foreskin to move freely back and forth over the glans penis whether a man's penis is erect or flaccid. But sometimes men have a short frenulum - a condition known as frenulum breve. A frenulum that's too short may not be able to withstand the vigorous thrusting movements of sex, and it may sometimes tear under the stress. A rule of thumb apparently, to judge if you have a short frenulum, is to see if your foreskin slides back by itself to cover your glans when your penis is erect. If it does, your frenulum may be too short.

For some men, the frenulum is so short that it pulls the head of the penis downwards - which definitely makes you a candidate for a torn frenulum. But whether it snaps dramatically, or it just tears, the pain is out of all proportion to the injury, and some remedy beyond natural healing is often needed. There's a link here to two articles about this condition in the UK Guardian, and The Malaysia Star, in which you will see that the writer of the first article says he tore his frenulum twice. The first time it healed naturally, the second it refused to do so: such a situation is often because when the frenulum heals, the scar tissue which forms is less flexible and shorter than the original skin, so it is even more predisposed to tear again during sex.

But the good news is that the traditional cure for frenulum breve - or, really, for a torn frenulum - of circumcision, is no longer considered necessary in most cases. There's a very minor operation called a frenuloplasty, in which the frenulum is snipped and sewn back to the foreskin so it is long enough and won't tear again. It's a far better option than the pain and discomfort of a torn frenulum, which may actually make sex too painful to enjoy. 

There's no doubt that some sexual positions put more stretch on the frenulum than others, as does a masturbation technique in which you pull the frenulum downwards as hard as possible and wait until your arousal increases to the point of ejaculation.

So the simple advice is - see a doctor, and get it treated. The sooner you do, the sooner you - and your penis - will be back in action! 

Q: I have hypospadias, and my life is over!

A: Hypospadias is a condition where the urethra doesn't go to the end of the penis. You can read about it here: an article on hypospadias published on September 22, 2008

Hypospadias is a condition where the urethra (tube you pee through) doesn't go to the end of the penis. In mild cases, it comes out near the end of the penis, but not quite. In more severe cases, it can come out anywhere from below the head of the penis to the scrotum.

Hypospadias is one of the most common birth anomalies there is, occurring in 1 out of every 125 to 500 boys. The possible reasons range from genetics and environmental pollutants called endocrine disrupters to diet. (An excellent study released in 2008 cites diet and obesity of the mother during pregnancy as risk factors, with a vegetarian diet or a diet lacking in meat and fish showing a strong positive association with hypospadias risk.)

It makes sense that cases of hypospadias occur on the bottom side of the penis where nature left a long seam. That's because when the penis is forming in the womb, nature zips it up along this seam. The urethra goes inside the chamber of the penis that's just inside the seam. With hypospadias, the urethra got caught in the zipper like your penis will if you are in a super hurry and zip your pants up before your guy is safely out of harm's way.

Hypospadias is usually a minor birth defect that often looms far more massively in the mind of the guy who's got it than in mind of a potential partner. There is nothing about hypospadias that makes a man any less of a man, or any less of a lover, although sometimes it results in a condition where the penis curves more than normal.

The real damage from hypospadias is usually the shame and aloneness that a guy feels when he's growing up. One of the reasons for feeling so different is because he's often got to sit down to pee, given how the pee shoots out the side of his penis instead of the end. The guy knows he's different from other males, and often lives in terror that others will find out and make fun of him. Of course, this never happens, given how kind and understanding children are about others who are different...

Aside from feeling like he's got this huge and horrible secret in his pants, most men with hypospadias have a medical history where they had to have their penis repeatedly inspected and examined by this doctor and that. And not being able to leave well enough alone, surgeons are frequently called in to do what often turns out to be multiple surgeries. (While medical intervention is sometimes helpful in certain cases, there are plenty of guys who would have been far better off if their penis had been spared the surgeon's knife.)

As is the case where any kid grows up feeling his body is defective, the most important issues to deal with are often the psychological. Men with hypospadias usually feel great emotional relief when they can meet and talk to other men who have the same condition. Fortunately, the Internet is making this much more possible than in times past.

Men with hypospadias sometimes grow up fascinated by other guys' penises. This makes perfect sense when you consider how often their penis gets handled by parents and doctors, often without a helpful explanation. It also makes sense given how focused a guy with hypospadias can be about the way his penis is different from other penises. However, there is no evidence that hypospadias results in a different sexual orientation unless that's what you were going to do from the start, hypospadias or not.

As for sex and relationships, the main difference between a penis with hypospadias and one without is the place where the ejaculate shoots out, and that's not going to make a bit of difference to most women. As one female reader said, "I can name you hundreds of other things women are more concerned about in a man than if his pee or cum shoots out straight or from the side--most women wouldn't give a rat's ass. Only guys worry about things like that."

Rest assured there's no reason why you can't become a father, so birth control is just as necessary for a man with hypospadias as for any other guy. The urethral opening for men with hypospadias is sometimes a little bigger, and some guys are prone to urinary tract infections, so drinking extra water and peeing after sex might be a good habit to get into.

Men with hypospadias recommend that you tell a partner about your hypospadias sometime after you've gotten to know each other but before you've got your hands in each other's pants. You can always pull out "The Guide" and point to this page if you need an ice breaker.

And if you are in serious need of a reality check, keep in mind that guys coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with stumps where they used to have arms and legs would trade for a penis with hypospadias in a heartbeat, and let's not even talk about people born with intersex conditions where a guy's penis isn't much bigger than a clitoris, or where a girls' clitoris isn't much smaller than a penis. This isn't to diminish a man's feelings about his hypospadias, but we tend to make our own little hells in life, and sometimes perspective isn't such a bad thing.

Resources:

For more information about hypospadias, an excellent resource is The Hypospadias and Epispadias Association.

Also check out hypospadias.

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Other pages of penis problems

My penis is too large / too small
My foreskin is too tight
I can't get an erection
Urethral opening abnormal
Torn frenulum - breve
My penis is twisted
Erectile dysfunction
Penis problems solved!
Hypogonadism
Hypospadias
Peyronie's
Andropause & mid-life crisis
Chlamydia
Penile problems & injuries
Yeast Infections
Sex addiction & obsession
Sexually transmitted infections
Testosterone declines with age

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