Hilarious, ridiculous, terrifying – any of these adjectives might be your first response to the story of two people getting stuck together during sex. By stuck we don’t mean some weird vacuum effect caused by all that sweaty friction, but something called penis captivus which involves the vagina clamping around the penis with such force as to make removal virtually impossible.
This traumatic situation was discussed on the BBC’s Health Check radio programme, with the guest, a Dr Aristomenis Exadaktylos, claiming that he had never come across a case of this nature. However, two of the show’s listeners wrote in to debunk Exadaktylos’ suggestion that it was an urban myth.Test yourself: Are you a sex addict?
From the BBC: "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 listener wrote to say he had heard a tale of it happening to an American airman stationed in Britain who had to call an ambulance to have his genitals extracted.
Interestingly, this phenomenon is very common in animals, particularly dogs, due to certain quirks in their anatomy.
"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.
Recent cases in Africa involving adulterous couples have put a new spin on penis captivus.
One of the most colourful accounts comes from Kenya, where a married woman and her secret lover became stuck and were only freed once they had prayed and the man had paid 20 000 Kenyan shillings (R2 300) to the cheating wife’s husband.