You probably already know that sex comes with a variety of risks. But how common are sex injuries? According to Dr. Stephen Makinde, clinical director of the Perfect Balance Clinic of osteopathy on Harley Street in London, 80 percent of the non-sports related cases he treats among middle-aged men are caused by sex. And this percentage has increased fourfold in the past five years. But, TBH, if you think about all the sex positions out there, it makes sense. A friend of mine was once performing oral sex on his girlfriend while she was sitting on their kitchen counter, and when she orgasmed, she hit her head on the cabinet above, causing them to spend the rest of the night in the emergency room — as well as giving her a permanent scar on her forehead. So you never know.
"We've noticed a real increase in sex-related injuries," Dr. Makinde said, reported the Daily Mail. "It used to be that injuries associated with sexual activity used to account for a small percentage of the non-sporting cases we treated — around 20 percent. But in the last five years, that's now increased to around 80 percent." Note: This percentage has to do with findings at their clinic only, but could very well be on the rise among other clinics and patients, too.
The main cause of sexual injury? Shower sex. "When it comes to sex, we see everything from neck injuries to wrist fractures, ankle sprains, and, of course, back problems," Dr. Makinde said. "Hernias are common, too, close to where the adductor muscles of the pelvic region become strained. With the back, we see everything from facet joint locks — where the back spasms and locks in a particular position — to full-blown disc prolapses and sciatic pain." Ouuuuch.
As for the huge increase in the number of middle-aged men injured? The doctor said they may be more open to admitting how they injured themselves these days versus making up a false story. And being honest about how the injury occurred is a win-win for both the patient and the doctor. "It's obviously a taboo area and people might find it hard being open about their private lives," Dr. Makinde said. "But for us, there's no real difference between an ankle you've rolled over playing squash or an ankle you've rolled over in the bedroom. Honesty can make the difference between someone being treated for two or three weeks, or being treated just once or twice to completely resolve a condition. Just having an understanding of how you did it gives us a much better understanding of how to treat it and then rehab it properly."
How Else Do Sex Injuries Happen?
As the Perfect Balance Clinic discovered, shower sex is the most common cause that leads to sex injuries they treat. Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, OB/GYN, sexual medicine gynecologist and the executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine and co-author of The Sexual Spark: 20 Essential Exercises to Reignite the Passion, agrees that shower sex may be dangerous. "A slick shower floor can lead to slippage and falls," he tells Bustle. "Be careful — and a bath mat is advised. As for adventurous sex in the living room: I am always for novelty incorporated into hum-drum sexual repertoire, but watch out for rug burns. Let's also not forget the old favorite of using everyday household objects in the rectum or vagina: Keys, bottles, and vegetables have all been inadvertently lodged in the male urethra or vagina. In addition, they can tear or lacerate sensitive tissues."
But sex positions, too, can cause sexual injuries. For example, "penile fractures are on the rise," Dr. Krychman says. "Yes, you can traumatize your penis with overly aggressive acrobatic sexual positions or overly vigorous masturbation. This typically happens when you exit the vagina and then, upon reentry, you miss and hit the pubic bone! Ouch. Some things to prevent it: Use LUBE, and lots. Water-based dries up fast, so I recommend some silicone-based products. I tell my adventurous patients to use Uberlube for 'uber' fun and safety. It's slick, with silicone and vitamin E." Overall, it goes without saying that there are a countless number of locations and sex positions that can contribute to being injured before, during, or after the act. The above may definitely get you to think before you sexually leap!
Can Sex Injuries Be Prevented?
Sexual injuries are not just limited to men, of course. "Most patients are middle-aged males, roughly in their mid-50s, but we do see women who've experienced such injuries, too," Dr. Makinde said. So what can people — of all ages — do to better protect themselves while having sex?
"Injuries can happen while doing anything, even just walking to your car," Rachel Needle, Psy.D., licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist in West Palm Beach, FL, tells Bustle. "We are not sure how common injuries related to sex are because people are not often honest about how they were injured. If you are trying something new, be careful. If you get injured easily, try stretching before engaging in sexual activity. If something doesn't feel good or you are experiencing discomfort, then stop or change positions. During arousal, our pain threshold increases, so one might have difficulty recognizing pain or discomfort during sexual activity. If you notice you are in pain or hurt after sex, it's a good idea to seek medical attention."
Dr. Krychman also has some ideas on how to potentially prevent an injury from sex. "Some sexual advice? Get limber," he says. "Exercise and stretch, as well as know your limitations. Discuss and have honest sexuality discussions with your partner. Also, do not rush! Yes, in the heat of the moment, vigorous sex may seem like a great idea, but, in fact, sometimes slow, sensual maneuvering is what is best to heighten the excitement and maximize pleasure and orgasmic release."
So sex injuries are definitely common, and they can happen in a number of ways. Luckily, slowing down, talking to your partner, and paying attention to how you're feeling can help prevent them. And if nothing else, this just brings a whole new meaning to having "safe sex."