Internet surfers were recently struck by a strange story that popped up in news outlets across the web: a man’s boner was actually turning to bone. Several sites reported on a rare case of penile ossification, a penis health crisis in which soft tissue is gradually changed into bone, usually creating quite a bit of penis pain along the way. Readers should not panic; as mentioned, this is a rare condition. But it’s a fascinating one, and one that most men will be interested to learn about – and hope it never happens to them.

Ossification is unusual

Let’s take a step back to some basic anatomy so that everyone understands why penile ossification is an unusual thing. First thing to clear up is this: Despite a popular name for an erection (boner) suggesting otherwise, there aren’t actually any bones in the penis. It wouldn’t be able to function in the way that it does if bones were getting in the way. (To be fair, it is suspected that humans did have a little free-floating penis bone many millions of years ago – but that doesn’t figure into this discussion.)

Because the penis lacks bones but has a great deal of tissue, it is able to grow and shrink as the occasion demands. Sometimes it grows a lot, sometimes not so much. It also is able to bend this way and that, and it has a certain degree of flexibility – all of which wouldn’t be possible if it were boney.

How does it happen?

According to some sources, there have been only about 40 reported cases of penile ossification in the medical literature, dating back to around the 1820s. In the case that got so much attention recently, a man in his 60s went to a doctor because he was having some knee pain after suffering from a fall. Naturally, the doctors took an x-ray to see if they could find any breaks or fractures. Imagine their surprise when the x-ray showed a considerable amount of boniness in the man’s penis. This had been causing him some penis pain, but not to the extent that he wished to consult with a doctor. (Men often are hesitant to bring matters involving the penis to the attention of their doctor; this can lead to penis health issues that could otherwise be avoided.)

Because penile ossification is so rare, doctors don’t know what causes it; they just know that for some reason, calcium starts forming deposits in the penis shaft. It is more often associated with Peyronie’s disease, a condition in which plaque builds up, causing the penis to bend and form an extreme and uncomfortable curvature. Peyronie’s disease is often the result of a trauma to the penis, and this is also the case for many instances of penile ossification.

Is there anything that can be done to stop or reverse penile ossification? Yes, especially if a doctor is consulted early on. Penis pain may be alleviated by the use of painkillers, while a decision is made on the best way to treat the ossification. In many cases, surgery will be needed to attack the ossification at its heart.

Since penile ossification is so rare, it is unlikely to be a cause of penis pain, which is more likely to come from rough handling or overuse. In such cases, regularly applying a top-drawer penis health creme (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin) can be effective. Penis pain is also soothed through re-moisturization of raw skin, so using a crème with both a high-end emollient (such as shea butter) and a natural hydrator (such as vitamin E) is ideal. Penis skin will also be strengthened through consistent exposure to a powerful antioxidant, so be sure the selected crème contains alpha lipoic acid, which is excellent at fighting oxidative damage.