A Man Tore His Lung From Masturbating, Doctors Say

A Man Tore His Lung From Masturbating, Doctors Say
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A young man’s session of masturbation inadvertently led to him spending almost a week in the hospital. In a recent case report from Switzerland, doctors detail how a 20-year-old ended up with air leaking into his chest after some seemingly innocent self-love. Fortunately, the injury wasn’t severe and he recuperated just fine.

According to the report, published in the May issue of Radiology Case Reports, the man visited the emergency room with stabbing chest pain and trouble breathing. His face had also gotten swollen, and doctors could hear distinct cracking noises as he breathed in and out. His symptoms had begun while he was “lying in bed and masturbating.”

Chest scans soon revealed that he had something called pneumomediastinum, a condition where air circulating through the respiratory system somehow ends up escaping into the space in the chest between the two lungs (the mediastinum). The man’s air sacs were also damaged, and he required high doses of oxygen. Doctors made the decision to put him in the intensive care unit for observation, and he was given preventative antibiotics and acetaminophen for his pain.

Pneumomediastinum can be caused by physical trauma to the lungs or esophagus. It can also spontaneously arise when a sudden increase in pressure within the chest cavity causes a tear in certain lung membranes, allowing air to leak out. This kind of injury is more likely to happen in young men, and known triggers include an acute asthma attack, strenuous exercise, or violent vomiting.

The man only had a history of mild asthma and denied any other known risk factors. So, near as the doctors could tell, his masturbation had to be the culprit. When the doctors looked through the medical literature, they did find a few reports of this injury likely brought on by sex. But this seems to be the first documented instance of self-love being to blame.

“Since there is no literature on spontaneous pneumomediastinum associated with autoerotic experiences, we consider our case an unusual presentation of this entity,” they wrote.

Scary as its symptoms can be, spontaneous pneumomediastinum is usually a condition that clears up on its own without the need for specialised treatment. Following an overnight stay in the ICU, the man was transferred out with no issues, and he was discharged from the hospital after four days with his chest pains and other symptoms completely gone.