Penis Envy Anyone?

Can you believe she's still single?
Life is full of wonderful mysteries, things that can cause awe and terror – often simultaneously. Some people stare at the night sky and imagine what could be contained there. Others scan the mighty oceans and try to fathom how those alien creatures of the deep could be related to us. Still others delve into the mysteries of the mind and attempt to unlock the demons that plague us so that we can finally put the irrational behind us. All of these people attempt to ascertain worthy goals. As such they will be roundly ignored here. Instead, you and I are going to talk about penises. Believe it or not we are doing this by request since, as a few of our female readers noticed, I seem to be fascinated with boobs and there should be some equal time given to another point of view.

Fair enough.

And since Ron White has already proven, via the scientific method, that all men are gay and it’s just a matter of degree, we won’t bore you with flaccid lumps of flesh. Nope, we’re going straight – if I may use that term – for the rock hard turgid members of man meat.

Now that we’ve all agreed that we want an erect penis, what’s the best way to get one? The answer may not be what you think. Diane Mapes of MSNBC reports that poison spider bites may be the best thing going.

Most of us get a little excited when we see a big spider, but for the unfortunate few who fall victim to the bite of the daunting Brazilian wandering spider, that “excitement” takes on a whole new meaning: The venom of the wandering spider — also known as the banana spider (or more formally Phoneutria nigriventer) causes erections in men.

“The venom of the P. nigriventer spider is a very rich mixture of several molecules,” says Dr. Kenia Nunes, a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia who is currently studying the odd side effect. “These molecules are called toxins, and then we have various toxins in this venom with different activity. Because of this, when a human is bitten by this spider, we can observe many different symptoms including priapism, a condition in which the penis is continually erect.”

In addition to the hours-long painful erection, the wandering spider’s bite can cause loss of muscle control, severe pain, difficulty breathing and, if not treated, death, due to oxygen deprivation (with anti-venom, the victim usually recovers within a week.)

Luckily, deaths from this impressive creature – it boasts a leg span of four to five inches – aren’t all that common. According to a website maintained by Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum, “authoritative sources state that over 7,000 authentic cases of human bites from these spiders have been recorded, with only around 10 known deaths.”

Usually found on banana plantations in the tropics, wandering spiders do tend to, uh, wander, though, with recent sightings reported at a Whole Foods in Tulsa, Oklahoma and an IGA store in Russell, Manitoba and a biting reported in Somerset, England in 2005.

But while the spider’s bite may be painful – or even deadly — its oddball venom may actually prove to be a valuable asset when it comes to treating erectile dysfunction in men.

“In Brazil, we have several reports of human accidents involving this spider and priapism as a symptom,” says Nunes, who recently published a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine on the spider venom and its potential use in treating ED. “So we started to investigate which part of the venom – which toxin – would be responsible for this symptom. We found the toxin responsible and performed experiments using hypertensive rats which have severe erectile dysfunction. The toxin was able to normalize the erectile function in these animals.”

After isolating the toxin (known as PnTx2-6), Nunes and her colleagues then studied the mechanism of action and found that the toxin acts in a different pathway as compared with other erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra.

“This is good because we know that some patients don’t respond to the conventional therapy,” she says. “This could be an optional treatment for them.”

Does the Brazilian wandering spider venom hold any potential benefits for sexually dysfunctional women?

Nunes says she hasn’t performed any experiments “to investigate the action of this toxin in females yet,” but she intends to do it “soon.”

Sorry Doctor, that’s not soon enough! I want to see women being randomly injected with spider venom by next week.

Or not, whatever works for you.

By the way, was I the only one who laughed when the article mentioned that the bite can cause death but, if you get the anti-venom, that can be cured within a week? I’m thinking that may be the more impressive drug.

“Hey Bob, you’re looking much better now.”

“Thanks Al, yeah, being dead for a week took a lot out of me but I should be ready for tennis again next Tuesday.”

Of course, just having an erection isn’t a guarantee of happiness or pleasure. Rachael Rettner says that just waving the magic wand isn’t enough.

And, yes, 3 out of 4 articles cited today are written by women. Live with it. They like our spiffy penises almost as much as we do.

A large percentage of men with erectile dysfunction (ED) also suffer from other sexual problems that can’t be treated with drugs, a new study says.

The results show 65 percent of men with ED are unable to have an orgasm, and 58 percent have problems with ejaculation.

Approximately 30 million American men, or half of all men ages 40 to 70, have ED, or trouble achieving or sustaining an erection, the researchers said.

While medications may help some men maintain an erection, “our research suggests there are other common sexual issues that remain largely unaddressed,” said Dr. Darius Paduch, a urologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

“We must expand the definition of quality of life when it comes to sexual performance,” Paduch said. “For the last few decades, we have focused on penile rigidity, with erection as a synonym of normal sexual function. However, many patients say that problems with ejaculation — like decreased force or volume or decreased sensation of orgasm — are just as critical.”

I can see that. At some point you want the moment to end. After all, you don’t come with batteries, you need tickling.

Sorry, old joke.

But what happens when you can’t close the deal? When the darn thing’s getting rubbed raw from overuse and still won’t go down.

Speaking of not going down …. never mind.

Anyway, as it turns out those funny 4 hour warnings aren’t so funny. Our penis loving gal pal Diane Mapes has the story.

We’ve all heard those warnings at the end of Viagra, Cialis or Levitra commercials about contacting your doctor if you have an erection that lasts longer than four hours (prompting many a joker to declare, “the hell with the doctor, I’m calling my friends!”).

But priapism, a prolonged erection unaccompanied by sexual desire and unaffected by orgasm, is actually no laughing matter.

“A prolonged erection is usually painful,” says Dr. Ira Sharlip, clinical professor of urology at the University of California at San Francisco and spokesperson for the American Urological Association. “Men usually know something’s wrong even if they’ve never heard of this condition, and almost always come in for care because of the pain. There are some men who don’t want to go to the doctor or an emergency room, but they should know that it’s a potentially serious condition which can result in permanent erectile dysfunction if it’s not taken care of.”

Named for Priapus, the Greek god of fertility who sported an oversized, eternally-erect penis (so large, in fact, he used it to frighten away anyone who tried to plunder his gardens), priapism brought on by erectile dysfunction drugs is extremely rare.

“The [Food and Drug Administration] requires a warning in the package insert because of the potential complication, but I’ve been prescribing Viagra for 10 years to many thousands of men and have never seen a case,” says Sharlip, who maintains a private urology practice in San Francisco. “It does happen even in men who aren’t taking erection drugs – I’ve taken care of the problem at the emergency room at the medical center where I work — but it’s really rare. So rare, that I don’t discuss this as a potential complication with my patients.”

Rough statistics from the FDA’s adverse event reporting system (AERS) regarding the erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs Viagra, Cialis and Levitra show a total of just 93 cases of prolonged erection greater than four hours or painful erection greater than six hours (priapism) in all of 2007 — 74 for Viagra, three for Levitra and 16 for Cialis. According to the FDA, physicians are encouraged to report suspected adverse events, although the event may be related to an underlying disease, another drug or simple chance.

Priapism is much more commonly seen in conjunction with penile injection therapy (an alternate treatment for ED), blood diseases such as leukemia or sickle-cell anemia, injury or trauma to the penis, spinal cord injuries, or as a side effect to certain drugs such as the antidepressant trazadone. The condition is found in all age groups, including children (usually in association with leukemia). There are also extremely rare cases of priapism in females (known as clitorism). A recent column dealth with a 70-year-old man who thought he had a form of priapism.

To understand priapism, it’s important to first understand the mechanics of an erection, which occurs when the blood vessels of the penis relax and open. ED drugs like Viagra don’t trigger erection — you need some kind of sexual stimulation for that — but they definitely set the stage by increasing enzyme actions in the erection chambers. Once the stage is set (via a little blue pill and a few soft lights, a hint of lingerie, and the musical stylings of Barry White), the spongy tissues along the length of the penis fill with blood and harden and the veins leaving the penis constrict.

Unfortunately, in the small percentage of men suffering from priapism, the system goes haywire and they’re unable to get rid of their erection once it shows up. In a nutshell, blood can get in but it can’t get out, a condition that sounds a bit like one of those old Roach Motel commercials, but is actually quite serious.

“If an erection is left in place for more than 12 hours, damage to the tissue in the erection chambers can occur,” says Sharlip. “It can be a cause of serious erectile dysfunction. They may be able to get a partial erection in the future, but not a full erection.”

All right, so too much of a good thing is just like too much of anything. It will probably kill you but before it does it will make your life a living hell.

Given the amazing amount of ways an improperly cared for penis can kill a guy you’d think that it would be the one thing men would go out of their way to care for. Brian Alexander says it ain’t so as he relates the story of a guy who decided it would be good fun to have thousands of needles jabbed into his Johnson.

You’d think somebody repeatedly sticking a needle in your penis would be a little off-putting, but the 21-year-old Iranian apparently thought it would be a grand idea to have Persian script reading borow be salaamat (good luck on your journeys), and the first initial of his girlfriend’s last name (“M”) tattooed onto his little gentleman.

He was left with a permanent semi-erection as a reminder of just how good the idea was.

His case raises a number of questions, not least whether the wish for good luck is directed to the penis or to the man, and if it’s to the penis, where, exactly, is it going? But, medically speaking, how could getting penis ink give make the organ go haywire?

The answer rests in the traditional technique the man subjected himself to. “Handheld needles are used and there is no control of the depth of the needle,” Iranian urologists reported in the most recent Journal of Sexual Medicine. “Henna, ash, and other natural pigments are used by traditional tattooists. They first use their needles to penetrate the skin. Then they apply the coloring material on the perforated skin surface.”

Naturally, this proved painful. After several days, the pain subsided. Soon after it did, though, the man noticed that his nighttime woodies were lasting a long time. A week later, he had a 24/7 priapic erection.

As erectile dysfunction pill commercials constantly remind us, non-sex-related erections lasting longer than four hours are dangerous for penises. The lack of fresh blood flow can starve the spongy tissues of oxygen, destroying them and resulting in impotence.

There are two types of priapism, ischemic and non-ischemic, according to UCLA urologist Dr. Jeffrey Bassett. In a normal erection, blood flows into the penis via arteries, and as pressure builds, the veins leading out are temporarily blocked. In ischemic priapism, the veins don’t open up again.

In non-ischemic priapism, the veins allow blood out of the penile tissue, but too much blood is flowing in via the arteries and the veins can’t keep up. So blood pressure builds. This isn’t as dangerous since fresh blood is coming in all the time, but it can be pretty inconvenient. If it doesn’t resolve, either on its own or with treatment, it can cause damage in some cases.

Bassett once treated a 24-year-old skateboarder who’d traumatized his pelvic area in a skate accident. It tuned out that the injury caused a blood vessel fistula that interfered with normal flow into and out of the penis.

According to the Iranian doctors, this is what happened to the young man. The tattooist punctured too-deep holes that damaged vessels in the penis, resulting in fistulas, and then a pseudoaneurysm, a pooling of blood outside a vessel wall. They recommended he see a specialist to have the blood removed, but he rejected that idea and saw another doctor to have a shunt procedure performed. It didn’t work.

Since the fellow is still able to have sex, and achieve a more-or-less normal erection, he’s rejected any more treatments, even the one his urologists recommended in the first place.

In one of those statements you’d think nobody would actually have to make, the Iranian doctors wrote “based on our unique case, we discourage penile tattooing.”

Running face first into an operating propeller may cause injury would seem to be a more needed warning sign all things considered. I know that I have occasionally let my penis go places it shouldn’t but I never actually put it in harm’s way.

At least not intentionally.


Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280,
every Friday morning around 9:10!

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