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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Can couples really get stuck together during sex?

A couple of historical reports of this phenomenon:
"When I was a student at Leyden there was a young Bridegroom in that Town that being overwanton with his Bride had so hamper'd himself in her Privities, that he could not draw his Yard forth, till Delmehorst the Physician unty'd the knot by casting cold Water on the Part."
...
In 1372, Geoffrey de La Tour-Landry related how a voluptuary named Pers Lenard "delt fleshely with a woman" on top of an altar of a church, and God "tyed hem faste togedre dat night". The following day the whole town saw the couple still entwined "fast like a dogge and biche togedre". Finally prayers were spoken and the couple's prolonged intercourse came to an end (although they were obliged to return to the church on three Sundays, strip naked and beat themselves in front of the congregation)
Dr Aristomenis Exadaktylos, author of a study of 11 years of admissions to his hospital in Bern, Switzerland, was asked on the BBC's Health Check radio programm if he had come across a case of the woman's vagina clamping on to the man's penis, he said "No" - and added that the idea was probably an urban myth.

Two listeners, however, wrote in to dispute this.

Homer described how Mars and Venus were caught
together to the "inextinguishable laughter" of the Gods
(Joachim Anthonisz, J. Paul Getty Museum collection)
"I must tell you it is no myth," wrote one woman who asked to remain anonymous. "It happened to my late husband and myself one night. He literally could not withdraw i.e. was 'stuck'. I attributed it to the intensity of the vaginal muscle response during orgasm."

Another correspondent, who asked to be referred to simply as John, grew up near an airport in southern England. "I remember hearing a story when I was 14 or 15 about an American airman who got stuck inside a lady and they had to get an ambulance and get them to a hospital to get them parted," he says. John eventually joined the merchant navy and started an on-off relationship with a woman in Japan.

On one occasion he and his partner were having "very enjoyable sex" when he suddenly found that he couldn't withdraw. "Proceedings came to a halt and we decided that we'd better separate," he recalls. It took two or three minutes of fumbling and laughing - the experience wasn't painful for either of them.

John, who is now 75, has never before spoken about the incident and it was never repeated.

Dr John Dean, a senior UK-based sexual physician, says that both accounts are credible examples of a rare phenomenon that doctors sometimes call "penis captivus" (captive penis).

"When the penis is in the vagina it becomes increasingly engorged," he says, giving his hypothesis of what causes the problem.

"The muscles of the woman's pelvic floor contract rhythmically at orgasm. While those muscles contract the penis becomes stuck and further engorged."

Finally the vaginal muscles relax, the blood flows out of the penis and the man can withdraw.

Many dog-owners will have seen their pets getting stuck during copulation, which breeders refer to as a "tie". However, there are distinct anatomical reasons for this, according to Peggy Root, an expert in animal reproduction at the University of Minnesota. A dog's penis has a compartment which fills with blood after intercourse has begun, effectively locking the male in place.

Two reviews of the history of penis captivus, published in 1935 and 1979, highlight the public's longstanding fascination with it.

In 1372, Geoffrey de La Tour-Landry related how a voluptuary named Pers Lenard "delt fleshely with a woman" on top of an altar of a church, and God "tyed hem faste togedre dat night". The following day the whole town saw the couple still entwined "fast like a dogge and biche togedre". Finally prayers were spoken and the couple's prolonged intercourse came to an end (although they were obliged to return to the church on three Sundays, strip naked and beat themselves in front of the congregation).

Mars and Venus depicted by 16th Century
 artist Raphael Regius
Captivus features in several other medieval myths and stories, which F Kraupl Taylor, the author of the 1979 review, believes may bear "only a tenuous connection with the actual facts".

In a 1933 manual of gynaecology, the author Walter Stoeckel speculated that penis captivus only affected couples engaged in illicit sex, the fear of detection presumably contributing to the force of the woman's muscular spasm.

This opinion is no longer held by experts, but the narrative of a clandestine meeting followed by public humiliation continues. Recent media reports of penis captivus - in Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe and the Philippines - all concern adulterous couples.

The Kenyan incident in 2012 supposedly occurred after the cuckolded husband paid a visit to a witch doctor. It was reported that the couple regained their liberty after prayers - and after the cheating man promised to pay the husband 20,000 Kenyan shillings (£140). He was filmed going to an ATM to withdraw the money.

The Zimbabwean media reported last year that a woman was bringing a law case against her long-term boyfriend for putting "runyoka" on her - a fidelity spell that caused her to get stuck on her lover. As one report put it, she was demanding compensation from the jealous boyfriend "for humiliating her and trying to control how she should use her private part".

But there are several accounts of penis captivus taking place within a marriage, including two unsensational case studies from 19th Century German gynaecologists.

Perhaps the best verified example of the phenomenon also occurred during marriage. After the Kraupl Taylor review was published, the British Medical Journal received a letter from Dr Brendan Musgrave, recalling an incident in 1947, from his days as a house doctor at the Royal Isle of Wight County Hospital. "I can distinctly remember the ambulance drawing up and two young people, a honeymoon couple I believe, being carried on a single stretcher into the casualty department," he wrote. This account was corroborated by another doctor who had been on duty at the time.

Dr John Dean says that he can't explain this "very unusual" story, since people experiencing captivus generally have trouble disengaging for only a few seconds.

But he adds: "If you're in that position, that probably feels like an eternity."

Related: Is it true men can suffer penile fracture? The faux pas de coit

via BBC.

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