More Useful Stuff
The male body, in all its cracking, gaseous, stiff and lopsided glory, is a fascinating object. Ever since your voice box started to make funny noises, you and your mates have been debating, discussing and divulging the mysteries of manhood. Here are the questions that you ponder at braais, over beers and across office dividers. We’ve got the doctors’ answers and the doctors’ orders
Can you really break your penis?
Yes. Stop wincing. When the erectile tissue of the penis is placed under bending strain it can rupture. “It causes a huge bleed under the skin,” says Dr Martin Bigalke, urologist and executive committee member of the South African Urological Association. “And it’s usually not caused by rolling over in bed,” he adds.
What’s the story with morning glories?
When the tank is full, the flag is raised. “A morning glory is a reflex erection caused by the effect of a full bladder on the erectile response of the autonomic nervous system,” says Bigalke. Having an erection prevents you from unwittingly relieving the contents of your bladder in the night, which could be a lot more uncomfortable than concealing that standing ovation you receive when you’re on the way to the bathroom in the morning.
Why do I get stage fright at the urinal?
Your close-valve switch is quick on the draw. “The bladder neck has alpha receptors, which respond to adrenaline and close under stress,” says Bigalke. “The same happens with orgasm, which is an adrenaline rush closing the bladder neck preventing semen from going back into the bladder.” Relax. Breathe. Release.
Why do my testes hang lopsided?
Uneven is normal. That way they can’t damage each other when you’re sitting down or running. The difference in their respective altitudes is determined by the fickle path that each testicle must travel to get to the place where it is today, usually hanging unevenly. Here, a brief history of your balls: “The testis forms at the back of the abdomen from the seminiferous tubules, meets the epididymis on its way down and follows the path of the gubernaculum, a gelatinous cord into the scrotum. No wonder it sometimes goes wrong,” says Bigalke.