7 Surprising Facts About The Penis

It might not be a bone, but you can definitely break your penis.

Medically reviewed in January 2022

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A man’s penis can reveal how well the rest of the body is performing. Anatomically speaking, the penis is just one part of a man’s reproductive system—the scrotum, prostate, epididymis, vas deferens and seminal vesicles make up the rest. There’s a reason we hear about the penis the most—it’s the apex of pleasure and most prominent external feature. Here are lesser known, but oh so interesting facts about the penis.

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You Can Break Your Penis

It might not be a bone, but a penis can break. Penile fracture is rare, but it can happen and it can be dangerous to the male anatomy, says Faysal Yafi, MD, urologist at Tulane Medical Center. Aside from the occasional horror story, penile fractures typically occur when an erect penis is thrust into a hard or bony structure. Symptoms of a fracture include immediate loss of erection, pain, swelling and bruising. If you do fracture your penis, head to your hospital or doctor because surgery is needed to repair the damage to the penis.

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Smoking Causes Shrinkage

Cigarette smoking causes stress to the body, subsequently causing stress to the penis. “The tissue starts dying off,” Dr. Yafi says, “it’s very likely the penis shrinks with smoking.” Men who smoke about 10 cigarettes a day, or those who have smoked for about 10 years can experience shrinkage when erect. One possible reason smoking might cause shrinkage? Smoking causes blockage in the small arteries in the penis triggering a weaker erection. If you need another reason to quit smoking: male smokers are also at greater risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

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Uncircumcised Men Might Feel More Pleasure

Circumcision, the removal of the foreskin of the penis, has its advantages and disadvantages. Research has shown that circumcision might lower a man’s risk of prostate cancer, urinary tract infection and sexually transmitted disease. However, some studies suggest the foreskin has the most sensation of any part of the penis, which might mean that men with uncircumcised penises have greater stimulation in the tip of the penis. The American Academy of Pediatrics found the benefits of newborn circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits aren’t great enough to recommend circumcisions worldwide. Whether or not you circumcise your newborn, should be a parent’s choice, AAP recommends.

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Food Doesn't Change the Taste of Semen

Sorry ladies and gentlemen, there’s no evidence that eating sweet foods like pineapple will make for better tasting semen. In fact, there’s no proven correlation between diet and the taste of a man’s spunk at all.

The male ejaculate is made of 96 percent water, 2 percent sperm and nutrients make up the remaining 2 percent. “When you think about it this way, not much is going to affect the semen itself, outside of whether someone is dehydrated or not,” Yafi says.

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Eat for Sperm Health

You can’t eat sweet foods to improve semen taste, but you can eat for better sperm health, which is important for male fertility. Foods rich in antioxidants like blueberries, walnuts and leafy greens can amp up the quality of an individual’s sperm. Sperm quality is characterized by three factors: quantity of sperm in the ejaculate as well as the sperm’s movement and structure. Looking for other ways to boost sperm health? Avoid smoking, maintain a healthy weight and eat a well-balanced diet. 

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Your Nighttime Erection Could Detect a Bigger Problem

Nighttime erections occur in healthy men during a normal night’s sleep. On average, a man will experience three to five full erections each night. These erections often help physicians determine the cause of erectile dysfunction.

Doctors look at three factors to help diagnosis ED: the strength of the erection, or the amount of blood flow into the penis; how long the erection lasts; and how frequently spontaneous erections, meaning erections not spurred by sexual excitement, occur.  If you don’t experience nighttime erections, or have erections that last fewer than 25 minutes or don’t reach a full erect state, then you might want to talk to your doctor.

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Your Penis Can Be Crooked

Like people, penises come in all shapes and sizes. Some men have a curve or bend in the penis during an erection called Peyronie’s disease. The condition occurs when scar tissue develops in the deep tissue of the penis. The scar tissue often becomes painful and can make sex uncomfortable. Peyronie’s disease is fairly common and often affects men between the ages of 40 and 60 or older. While the cause is often unknown, it’s not uncommon for the condition to resolve all on its own. If the condition doesn’t go away on its own, medication, medical therapies like ultrasound, or in rare cases, surgery, may be recommended.

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