When we think about the typical conditions an ER doc sees, chest pain, car accidents, and broken bones come to mind. But ER docs are also the front line physicians who see and treat genital injuries, and it’s a lot a lot more common than you might think.
Between 2002 and 2012 there were 16,000 “mishaps” resulting in genital injuries serious enough to require a trip to the emergency room, according to a University of San Francisco group that published these findings in the Journal of Urology.
70% of these injuries involved men, which isn’t surprising given that men’s genitals are a little more vulnerable to things like crashing into the cross bar of a bicycle (1212), zipper accidents (951), and baseball, softball, or basketball incidents (649). Skiing and snowboarding accidents accounted for 182 visits. While young men were the most likely to get injured during sports, older guys were the most prone to bathtub injuries, specifically slipping while climbing out and crash straddling the bathtub ledge (ouch!).
As a gynecologist, I wasn’t surprised that the majority of ER visits related to female genitals were not from bumps or accidents, but most often inadvertently self-inflicted cuts and infections from grooming pubic hair. Razors, scissors and clippers accounted for 1,089 ER incidents! Given the popularity of “less is more” in recent pubic hairstyle trends, grooming mishaps increased 5 fold during the course of the 10 years included in the study. No doubt these types of injuries are dramatically higher since only incidents serious enough to go to the emergency room were counted. I can personally attest to that, as I have seen my fair share ofwaxing burns and hair removal nicks in the office. And then there was that nasty clitoral burn in my patient who thought it was a good idea to bleach her pubic hair to match the hair on her head. One can only imagine the number of women who deal with these issues and don’t tell anyone.
Of course the ultimate ER genital injury was the poor woman who was enjoying a session of oral sex and moved a bit too suddenly. Her boyfriend got her clitoral piercing caught in his teeth and, brace yourselves, ladies, partially tore off her clitoris. I am happy to report that the injury was successfully repaired but that her jewelry is now limited to her ear lobes.
So, the morals of our story are as follows: If you are a guy, zip carefully and consider genital protection during sports; If you are a woman, you might want to leave your grooming to the professionals and forget the genital jewelry. If you find yourself in the local ER with a genital injury, at least you can be reassured that you will not be the first–or last– genital casualty a typical ER doc treats.
Origianlly Published Feb 12, 2014 EveryDay Health