Merck Manual

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Genital Injuries


Noel A. Armenakas

, MD, Weill Cornell Medical School

Reviewed/Revised Feb 2023
Topic Resources

Most genital injuries occur in men and may involve injury to the testes, scrotum, and/or penis. Severe genital injuries occur most commonly on the battlefield, usually from ground explosives.

Several types of injuries can affect the penis. The penis can be partially or fully severed. Reattachment of a severed penis is sometimes possible, but the extent of recovery of sensation and function varies. Constricting penile rings, applied to enhance erections, can possibly strangle the penis and cause permanent damage. Removing the ring is usually all that is necessary. Penetrating injuries, including animal and human bites and gunshot wounds, are less common and may also involve the urethra. Surgery may be required to treat injuries of the penis and injuries of the urethra Urethral Injuries The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder outside the body. In men, the urethra runs through the middle of the penis. Most urethral injuries occur in men. Common causes include... read more .

Cuts to the penis

Catching the penis in a pants zipper is common, especially in children, but the resulting minor cut usually heals quickly. The goal is to simply keep these clean; antibiotics should be taken if the cuts become infected.

If a zipper becomes stuck on the skin of the penis or scrotum, the zipper can be removed by using a sturdy wire cutter (diagonal cutter) to cut the bar on the top of the zipper slider, which connects its front and back plates. Then the slider falls off in 2 pieces, and the zipper teeth come apart readily.

Removing a Zipper From the Skin of the Penis

Removing a Zipper From the Skin of the Penis

Fracture of the penis

Excessive bending can fracture an erect penis. Such bending may occur during vigorous sexual intercourse if the penis is stubbed against the partner’s pelvic bone. Fracture of the penis may also involve a urethral injury. The “fracture” is actually a tear in the covering (tunica albuginea) of one of the two tube-like structures in the penis (corpus cavernosum) that hold the additional blood flow that maintains erection.

Did You Know...

  • The penis can fracture during vigorous sexual intercourse.

Injury of the scrotum and testes

The location of the scrotum makes it susceptible to injury. Blunt forces (for example, a kick or crushing blow) cause most injuries. However, occasionally gunshot or stab wounds penetrate the scrotum and testes. Rarely, the scrotum can develop severe and rapidly progressive infections such as gangrene Gas Gangrene Gas gangrene is a life-threatening infection of muscle tissue caused mainly by the anaerobic bacteria Clostridium perfringens and several other species of clostridia. Gas gangrene can... read more . If gangrene develops, the involved tissues are surgically removed and the person is given broad-spectrum antibiotics by vein (intravenously). Reconstructive surgery can be done after the infection is controlled.

Testicular injury causes sudden, severe pain, often with nausea and vomiting. Ice packs, a jockstrap, and drugs for pain and nausea usually effectively treat a bruised testis (bleeding in and around the testis). Ultrasound examination is done to confirm whether the testis has ruptured. A ruptured testis requires surgical repair. Injury to the testis can destroy the capacity for sperm or sex hormone (mainly testosterone) production. If both testes are injured, testosterone replacement may be necessary. If only one testis is injured, the remaining testis usually produces as much testosterone as the body needs.

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