Breaking hearts is one thing, but breaking penises? Well, that’s a whole other level of things you should try and avoid doing in life. Having said that, though, complaints or torn, ripped and broken banjo strings (or frenulums, as they’re medically referred to), seem to be remarkably common among men of all ages.
At 29, I can recall at least a half a dozen stories from friends of drunken hookups gone wrong, screams of pain being omitted whilst in the throes of passion and more blood than a murder scene seemingly appearing out of nowhere, off the top of my head.
But when I mentioned this – along with the words ‘banjo string’ to my co-workers recently, I was met with many confused stares. So in the interest of information sharing and keeping up appearances with a pain-free peen, here’s everything you need to know about the banjo string.
First things first, what is the banjo string?
If you’re a woman, understanding what the banjo string (frenulum breve) is can be a little confusing, but basically, it’s a small fold of connective tissue that keeps the foreskin and the penis connected and helps the foreskin to retract when needed, and return over the head once an erection subsides.
Women actually have two frenulums themselves – one that connects your tongue to the bottom of your mouth and one that connects your top lip to your top gum. So if you’re confused, know that it’s just like those, but downstairs.
Do all men have a banjo string?
In theory, men who are circumcised shouldn't have a banjo string because they don't have a foreskin, but that's rarely the case. Often, a partial banjo string will remain but it will be far less sensitive than those uncircumcised and can't exactly tear, because, well there's nothing for it to tear away from anymore.
So, how does one tear, snap and/or break it?
From all of the men and women I spoke to, alcohol seems to be the biggest culprit for banjo string injuries, in that people really let their guard down and get a little more vigorous after a few drinks. And while letting your inhibitions go is great, you do need to be careful when you're yanking the chain of another. Or giving head. Or going for a ride.
"I was giving a blowjob when I suddenly started tasting blood," one woman told me. "Realising blood is absolutely not normal, I turned the light on and discovered blood from my hair to my hips."
Another woman in her early 30s told me about a time almost 10 years ago that still haunts her - a hand job gone horribly, horribly wrong.
"In retrospect, I was way too drunk to be trying to arouse someone, but hey, that's your early 20s, right? Anyway, after a lot of drinking, I went home with this guy and was trying to jerk him off, but it was taking too long. Rather than change tactics, I just sped things up and got a little too aggressive. The next thing I know he's screaming, there's blood everywhere and I realise I really, really need to go home."
What does it feel like?
Like all things, pain is unique to each person. Some describe it as similar to a paper cut, others as a blasting pain, others as a subtle ache.
"It was kind of like a blunt pain at first," one man in his 20s told me. "But I guess I was trying to not think about it, so I didn't take too much notice. Maybe I was also super horny so didn't want to stop and think, but it started feeling super wet and I looked down, and there is blood everywhere. EVERYWHERE."
Another man, who has suffered from the injury twice - the first time from having sex "too hard" and the other from receiving oral sex - described it as "an excruciating amount of pain when it happens."
Why is there so much blood?
The copious amounts of blood men report seeing following an accident makes perfect sense given that the banjo string is almost only ever injured during arousal, AKA when the bits are pumped full o' blood.
"I recently tore my banjo string at a girl's house I had just started dating, and bled all over the carpet. To the point where we had to stop what we were doing and just try and get the blood stain out," one man told me.
Another said the bleeding took close to half an hour to fully subside.
"I ran to the shower and tried to wash all the blood off when it happened, and that made it sting even more. I think it took around half an hour to stop bleeding, so I just had to sit him in a tissue and go to the doctor's the next day."
What's the healing process like?
Again, what you need will vary slightly on how severe the injury is, but as a general rule, doing daily salt baths to clean the area, as well as avoiding all sexual activity for a fortnight is recommended. If after that time it's still uncomfortable to have an erection, you may need more time.
More severe injuries have included stitches "four - a first for me and the doctor," one man told me, while another said his banjo string took eight weeks to fully heal.
How common is it?
According to most of the men I spoke to, it's a fairly common accident. Others, though, said it was not and suggested I just hung out with degenerates (both options possible, to be honest).
Unsurprisingly, finding confirmed figures on such things has proven tricky because many men do not present to a doctor, but one Sydneysider told me that when he went to the GP with his injury he was assured it "was so common. But then nobody agreed at work. Maybe people are just too embarrassed to admit it?" he said, adding, "I kind of found it hilarious after I got over the pain."
Listen: Madison Missina and Carla GS talk sexual partners and counting numbers. Post continues...
How can you avoid breaking it?
Well, without being too crude, treating the peen with respect and keeping your turbo action hands to yourself when wasted is the first advisable course of action. Keeping teeth in check, taking care when climbing aboard, and backing up with caution are also recommended.
If you do have an accident, though, don't freak out. Just stay calm, suggest a salt bath, and look for some cleaning products, stat.