Ross Asdourian’s night was going well. He met an old friend at a bar and they eventually made their way back to his East Village apartment. They were in the midst of a rendezvous when something bad — no, really, really bad — happened.
"We were basically approaching the finish line ... and I came out, and when I went to go back in, she was pushing back, and basically it just popped," he said, referring to his penis. "I knew right away that something was wrong, and I went straight into emergency protocol,” the comedian wrote in his new book, Broken Bananah: A (Painfully) True Story. “I breathed in the pain for a couple of beats, rolled over, flipped on the lights and called 911.”
Once at the hospital, the medical staff confirmed his worst fears: He had a broken penis.
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What is a broken penis?
The idea of a broken penis is a bit of a misnomer. Penises don’t have a bone — insert joke here — but it’s the easiest way to explain the actual name of what he was experiencing: a corpus cavernosa rupture. "'Penile fracture' is a common term, but when people hear penile fracture, they think of a bone in the penis, and there's no bone in the penis, I can assure you. It's more of a rupture," Dr. Jack Mydlo, professor and chair of urologic surgery at Temple University, told CNN.
The corpus cavernosum is the name for the pair of sponge-like tissues that, along with the corpus spongiosum, make up a man’s member. When a man gets aroused, a rush of blood fills up the tissues to create an erection. But if there’s too much pressure, the tunica albuginea (or fibral envelope) tears, causing a broken penis. Most broken penis cases happen on only one side, but sometimes both sides rupture. That points to a more serious problem with possible lasting consequences, which unfortunately Asdourian had.
“[T]he first big test [at the hospital] was to see if I could pee in a jug — and I couldn't,” the comedian said. “And if you can't pee, then there's a ticking time bomb on what they're going to do." His broken penis also led to a “complete disruption of the urethra,” his primary surgeon, Dr. Rajveer Purohit, director of reconstructive urology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told CNN. A urethra disruption occurs in about 10 percent of broken penis cases, according to one study.
Without medical care, a torn urethra can lead to “scar tissue that would prevent them from urinating normally, or a fistula forms where the urine would have just been pooling outside the urethra," Purohit said. "So the sooner they go to the hospital, the better."
Is it easy to get a broken penis?
Rest easy, guys: A broken penis isn’t exactly an everyday occurrence, but it does happen. More than 1,300 cases of penile fracture have shown up in medical literature since 1935. It typically happens during sex when a man thrusts against areas outside the genitals (like the pubic bone or perineum), or when a woman is on top. "In other countries ... particularly in the Middle East ... people try to lose their erection because they're socially embarrassed about it," Purohit said. When they try to do so with force, it can cause a fracture.
But onto the bigger question: Was Asdourian able to unbreak his penis? Luckily, yes. "I did a urethroplasty, where we cleaned up the edges of the urethra and then put the two edges back together," Purohit said. He was able to urinate on his own after three months, according to Purohit, and “preserved his erections, so he's doing well with that, and his urine flow is completely normal — so basically, he had no negative outcomes.”
So what does Ross Asdourian say about his broken penis experience?
But the comedian has a sense of humor about the whole experience and hopes people can get a laugh from his experience, because after all tragedy plus time equals comedy.
"I think that all men in the depths of their brain know that this is possible. And I will go a step further and say that most men have probably had scares where maybe it bent a little bit, myself included," Asdourian said, adding that life “can always be worse.”
“Even when we lose our core family jewels, it truly can always be worse. And that's a good perspective to have, because we're just a blip on the radar, and there are miracles happening every day.”
Check out Asdourian’s new book on his website for Broken Bananah: A (Painfully) True Story.