You may assume that you’re pretty unlikely to sustain an injury while having sex or masturbating. But sex injuries are actually fairly common: In one survey of 2,000 British adults, conducted by the online health company EuroClinix, 15 percent reported that they had hurt themselves during sexual activity, and another 2 percent were injured badly enough to seek medical attention. The rate was even higher among respondents 18 to 24 years old, almost a quarter (22 percent) of whom had sustained a sex-related injury. Here are some common accidents, injuries, or other mishaps that can befall the amorous.
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1. Retained Tampon
It’s possible for a menstruating woman to have sex with a tampon still inside her, which can push the tampon far up in the vagina where it may be forgotten, potentially leading to infection or, rarely, toxic shock syndrome. If a woman remembers she left a tampon in and has no symptoms—such as itching or unusual discharge—she can try to remove it by inserting two clean fingers and attempting to grip either the string or the tampon. She can also sit on the toilet and “bear down” as when having a bowel movement, which should move the tampon down the vaginal canal. If symptoms are present, it’s best to see a gynecologist to remove the tampon and check for infection.
2. Carpet Burns
Fooling around on the floor can be adventurous but may also lead to a painful friction burn on the skin that rubs against the carpet. The best way to avoid this is to first lay down a blanket or sheet. But if you were so spontaneous that you didn’t have time to prepare and you become injured, wash the affected area with mild soap and cool running water to reduce inflammation, swelling, and the risk of infection. Dry the skin thoroughly. If the lesion is weepy, cover it lightly with gauze or a bandage. Don’t apply alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which could cause further irritation.
3. Vaginal Tear
The soft tissues of the vagina can develop a laceration from being pulled and stretched, which can happen during intercourse or from the use of a sex toy. This can lead to pain or light bleeding that you may notice on your underwear or the sheets. Typically, a vaginal tear occurs because the vagina isn’t lubricated enough or because of postmenopausal vaginal atrophy (a thinning of the vaginal tissues that occurs with age). A small tear will likely heal on its own within a day or so. For a larger tear, causing continued pain and bleeding over several days, see a gynecologist. If you’re having difficulty with lubrication, try using a personal lubricant.
4. Fractured Penis
The penis can become significantly bent while erect, rupturing the membrane lining the corpora cavernosa, the spongy tissue in the penis that fills with blood during an erection. As with a bone, a penile fracture may be accompanied by a snapping sound, followed by severe pain, bruising, and swelling. This injury is most likely to occur when the penis is at an extreme angle during intercourse. A 2014 study found that the woman-on-top position posed the highest risk for this injury. Another risky position was doggy style. A suspected penis fracture merits an immediate trip to the emergency room, as it often requires surgery to repair.
5. Foreign Body in the Rectum
The most commonly removed objects were vibrators and dildos, according to a 2016 report from a U.K. hospital. Other items included an apple, a candle holder, and a bottle of deodorant. Any object stuck in the rectum requires a visit to the ER. If the object is low enough, a physician may be able to remove it with a gloved hand; if it’s lodged higher, he or she may need to use forceps. Extreme cases may require surgery. To prevent this problem, use only items designed for anal play, such as toys with flared bases that are too wide to go past the anus.
6. Irritation from Spicy Food
We found reports of women experiencing mild genital irritation or burns when a partner performed oral sex after eating chili-laden spicy food, or after inserting Pop Rocks candy in the vagina. Performing oral sex on a man after eating hot food can cause similar irritation. To avoid this, brush your teeth or use a mouthwash between eating spicy food and engaging in oral sex. If a burn or irritation occurs, wash the area with warm soapy water. Women should seek medical attention if burning doesn’t abate after an hour or so, which could indicate an internal burn.