Myths and facts about penis captivus
Very few reports have documented the existence of penis captivus. What reports there are have led many people to question whether it really happens.
The penis becoming stuck in the vagina is one possible outcome of a condition called vaginismus, in which the vagina involuntarily closes due to muscle spasms in the pelvic floor.
If penis captivus occurs, the effect is likely very temporary. If both partners relax and give it some time, the muscles should relax, allowing the couple to separate.
Can it happen?
Clinical reports of penis captivus are so rare that many doctors question its existence.
There have been so few credible reports of penis captivus that some people, including some doctors, question its existence.
Reported cases are few and far between, and well-documented cases are even more rare.
A review that appeared in the BMJ in 1979 notes that the existence of the condition was more established by hearsay than fact. The author of the review highlighted the scant references to the condition in medical literature, with the most thorough accounts of penis captivus published in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The author concludes that although penis captivus may seem to be a myth, doctors have reported it. That said, these reports are extremely rare.
The lack of medical documentation may stem from the temporary nature of the phenomenon; if penis captivus was routinely severe enough to require medical attention, it would likely have inspired more reporting.
In 1980, a doctor responded to the 1979 review and wrote to the BMJ to confirm the existence of penis captivus.
He tells of a young couple affected by the condition arriving at the hospital by ambulance in 1947. It is important to note that this is anecdotal evidence, which holds less credibility than a case report, for example.
How can it occur?
During arousal, the penis fills with blood, becoming erect in preparation for sexual intercourse. For females, the walls of the vagina relax and the vulva lubricates in preparation for sexual penetration.
The vaginal walls are made up of muscular tissue, which expands and contracts at different times during sex, such as during an orgasm. These contractions can be very strong, and they are sometimes stronger than usual.
In some rare cases, the vagina may contract with enough force to latch onto the penis. This could make it difficult for the partners to separate.
However, after these vaginal contractions come to an end, the vaginal walls will relax. The time that it takes for this to happen varies. The blood will eventually flow away from the penis, and it will become smaller and softer. When either or both of these things occur, the partners should be able to separate.
Due to the lack of medical documentation, it may be safe to assume that penis captivus — when it does occur — is a temporary phenomenon that may only cause fleeting discomfort.
What to do if it occurs
If either partner feels penis captivus starting to happen, they should try to stay calm. Added stress can lead to more muscular tension, which can make the phenomenon last longer.
It is important not to try to force the penis out of the vagina. Doing so can hurt one or both partners. It is also important not to try to open the vagina or pry the penis out manually.
Taking deep breaths may help both partners become or remain calm. Distracting each other or making a joke out of the situation can also relieve the tension and reduce arousal in the genitals.
Staying calm and allowing the muscles in both bodies to relax can help resolve the issue as soon as possible without complication.
If this phenomenon does occur, it will likely only last for a moment before the penis and vagina relax.
What is vaginismus?
Vaginismus may make inserting tampons difficult.
Penis captivus can result from a condition called vaginismus.
Vaginismus involves involuntary spasms in a female's pelvic floor muscles. The spasms can make activities such as inserting tampons difficult or impossible. The spasms can also interrupt penetrative sex or make it uncomfortable for either or both partners.
One person may have a very different experience of vaginismus from another. Symptoms can range from a slight burning sensation during sex to severe, painful contractions that close the vagina completely.
It is possible that such an extreme contraction could happen during penetrative intercourse. In this case, the penis may become momentarily stuck in the vagina.
The causes of vaginismus are varied. They may involve physical, emotional, or psychological factors, or a combination of all three. For some people, vaginismus stems from an emotional or psychological response to the insertion of anything into the vagina, whether or not the context is sexual.
Treatment for vaginismus can therefore be complicated for some people. For example, a study that appears in the journal BMC Women's Health reports that some treatment options involve using tools such as vaginal dilators.
With the help of a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor muscles, success is more likely. They can also help a person uncover any psychological barriers.
Some people with vaginismus find cognitive behavioral therapy beneficial. However, for some people with the condition, penetrative sex may never be entirely comfortable.
In general, treatment for vaginismus can take time. It requires patience and open communication between the person with the condition, their partner, and their doctor.
Penis captivus seems to be extremely rare, to the extent that many people consider it to be a myth.
Given the lack of evidence, it is impossible to say with certainty how often penis captivus happens. Doctors would likely document any instances of this rare condition, and there have been very few reported cases throughout medical history.
If penis captivus occurs, it likely only lasts for a few seconds or minutes. Remaining calm and allowing the muscles of the vagina and penis to relax should resolve the issue, allowing the couple to separate.