Avoid getting hurt while doing the deed. (Photo: tunart/Getty Images)
Valentine’s Day is primetime for flowers, chocolate, and … certain NSFW activities. Of course, with all that after-hours fun, some things are bound to go wrong. Maybe the mood isn’t quite right or someone fractures a penis. Yup, it can happen, and so can a slew of other sex injuries.
Think it won’t happen to you? You might be surprised. A recent British study estimated that 5 percent of us have actually taken time off from work due to sex-related injuries, and there are likely plenty of others who still reported to work while nursing an injury. “That number is absolutely underreported due to embarrassment,” says physical therapist Kristi Latham, DPT, founder of physical therapy clinic Beyond Therapy & Wellness, which treats sexual injuries along with other women’s health issues.
Odds are, you and your significant other will be fine, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of what’s at risk, especially if you’re planning to whip out some new moves on V-Day. We talked to the experts to find out the most common sex-related injuries — and how to stay safe.
If you or your partner likes to keep things trim down there, you’re at risk for getting painful scratches from nooky. “Genital abrasions can occur if there’s not enough lubrication,” says board-certified urologist Harry Fisch, MD. If your partner has just trimmed, you’re probably OK since the problem is more likely to arise when the pubic hair begins to grow back. At that point, it’s coarse, stubby, and bristly, like sandpaper rubbing up against your most sensitive body parts—repeatedly. Don’t want to risk it? Use plenty of lubrication.
Condoms, sex toys, sanitary products — they can all get lodged into a woman’s vagina more easily than you’d think. “When running sexual health clinics, I had several women come in over the years who had forgotten they had a tampon in and then had sex, which pushed the tampon high up into the vaginal canal,” says clinical sexologist Kat van Kirk, PhD.
If you realize that you have an object lodged up there, van Kirk recommends waiting until about 20 minutes after sex when your vagina recovers its non-aroused shape, then squatting and using two fingers to try and remove whatever is stuck. If that doesn’t work and the object doesn’t come out on its own within a couple of hours, it’s time to see your doctor.
It’s hard to believe, but a woman’s vagina can actually tear if her partner enters her wrong. And the angle of entry is the biggest issue. According to Latham, it’s important to adjust positioning in order to decrease pressure toward the back of the vagina, which is the most common place for tearing. Woman on top is fairly safe, since the woman can control the pressure and angle, but moving slowly and making sure to be well-lubricated is also crucial for preventing a tear.
A Fractured Penis
It’s not an urban myth — a man’s penis can actually fracture during sex. Here’s how: If a man misses the mark during sex, his penis can hit his partner’s pubic bone and bend. While the penis doesn’t have an actual bone, it does have ligament tissue, which can fracture.
Recent research from three hospitals in Brazil determined that this is most likely to occur during woman-on-top positions, which account for 50 percent of all penile fractures. According to Fisch, a man with a fractured penis will feel some pain after sex and will notice a slight bend in his penis only when it’s erect. When that happens, it’s time to see a doctor: “That’s a surgical emergency,” he says.
It’s not just penises that can “break” — van Kirk has also seen broken bones as a result of adventurous romps. “It can be from trying a new position or trying to have sex in a physically tricky place, like the shower, stairs, car, or kitchen,” she says, adding that sometimes it can happen because a couple is in a rush to have sex without being discovered. She recommends taking your time if you’re trying out something new, and planning for some privacy.
Pulled muscles and back pain are some of the most common sex injuries, says Latham. Men typically have this issue when they thrust while rotating their trunk or lift their partner too far away from their body while thrusting. In order to prevent these pains, she recommends staying close to your partner during any sexual positions that require lifting, and keeping shoulders squared over the hips. Women can also injure their backs when they lean back too far during sex or bend at the hips without the support of the arms, she says.
Urinary Tract Infections
While women tend to be more aware of urinary tract infections, Fisch points out that men can develop them, too. “Men get UTIs just as often as women, but they just ignore them,” he says. During sex, the genital area for men and women can become contaminated with fecal matter, which can then get pushed into the urethra and result in an infection. To prevent a UTI, Fisch recommends practicing good hygiene, showering before sex, and urinating immediately after getting busy. If you notice that you’re going to the bathroom more frequently and it’s uncomfortable, see a doctor.