Q&A: Genital Cuts, What is the Risk of a Torn Frenulum?

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QUESTION: I'm gay and during sex my partner usually masturbates me. Lately, he has been pulling back my foreskin a little too far back. Although the feeling is good and yet a little uncomfortable sometimes, I'm afraid he might pull too far back and cause a tear near my frenulum. Is this possible?

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Whenever people are rough or forceful with their bodies, it is possible to have some risk – even slight – of damage or injury. In regard to sexual behavior such as masturbation and intercourse, most sex injuries are fairly minor such as small cuts or tears. For example, many women have had the experience of noticing slight bleeding from vaginal sex as a result of getting tiny cuts or tears in their vagina or vulva as a result of intense friction from sex.

Men, too, may experience minor cuts or tears on their genitals from intense solitary masturbation, mutual masturbation, intercourse or other sexual activities. These cuts may be along any part of the genitals that are torn or stressed during sex, including the frenulum – which is on the underside of a man’s penis, just below the glans.

Both men and women can reduce their risk of genital cuts and tears from sex by using a personal lubricant during sexual activity. You and your partner may find that using a lubricant helps to make mutual masturbation feel more comfortable and pleasurable, while reducing the risk of tearing too. I’d also encourage you to talk to your partner and let him know that while you enjoy the way that he masturbates your penis, you sometimes feel some discomfort and worry that your frenulum will tear. You are the only one that can feel the discomfort, since it’s your body, and it is important to give him this information so that he can be sexual in ways with you that are both enjoyable, sexy and as safe as can be
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If you do develop a genital cut or tear, rest assured that most small genital cuts and tears heal within a day or two. If you develop any small cuts or tears, you may find that it is more comfortable to avoid or modify genital stimulation (such as masturbation) until the cut heals. Like cuts in other places on the body, it is important to keep genital cuts clean. If you develop cuts or tears that are larger, that are uncomfortable, painful, or that concern you, please always check in with your healthcare provider. Although sex injuries and complications are usually minor, sometimes they do require the attention of a trained healthcare provider and it is important to take care of your sexual health in this way.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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