healthHealth and Medicine

Aubergine Deformity Is Real, And Here's Why It Happens

You’ll never think of the emoji the same way again…

Russell is a Science Writer with IFLScience and has a PhD in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology

Dr. Russell Moul

Russell is a Science Writer with IFLScience and has a PhD in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology.

Science Writer

hand holding eggplant

Aubergine deformity, or aubergine sign, is a key indicator for a very uncomfortable condition.

Image credit: Ashas0612/

The world of medicine is filled with some fascinating and sometimes horrendous surprises, and there is one in particular that will have men twitching at the sheer thought of it – the legendary “aubergine deformity”. While it may sound like a culinary mishap involving eggplants in the kitchen, it’s actually the result of a mishap in the bedroom. Doctors use the term “aubergine deformity” or “aubergine sign” to describe a rare and unpleasant incident – penile fracture. 

What is penile fracture?

In March this year, the story of an unnamed 37-year-old man who experienced a “hard time” was published in the journal Urology Case Reports. The man had turned up to his local hospital complaining of severe pain and a loss of erection after an accident occurred while he was having sex. Apparently, the man and his partner were enjoying the reverse cowgirl position when he heard a cracking sound (which we imagine would be like snapping a glow stick) followed by extreme pain and blood that discharged from the tip of his penis. 


The man’s penis had swollen and taken on a purple color that looks remarkably like an aubergine, a classic sign that he had suffered a penile fracture. Such fractures usually occur when an erect penis experiences blunt trauma during sex. This can be the result of the penis colliding with the pubic bone or perineum during vigorous movement, much like a carrot hitting a wall. Although there are no bones in the penis, the tunica albuginea and corpora cavernosa – parts of the male member that help maintain erections – can rupture. 

In rare cases, the swelling caused by the trauma can block the urinary tract. Untreated, the condition can lead to impotence and lasting deformities. 

The condition appears to be pretty rare. In the US, the frequency is just 1 in 175,000 hospital admissions, and is more common in sexually active men between the ages of 30 and 50. However, given the embarrassing nature of the injury, many incidents may go unreported. 

Apparently, there are certain sexual positions that are more likely to cause penile fractures. Doggy style appears to have the highest breaking rate, with around 44 percent of reported cases resulting from this position. The missionary position was the next big offender, responsible for about 25 percent of fractures. 


Penile fractures can also occur from overly enthusiastic (or ambitious) masturbation in rarer instances, and there are even reports of people breaking their precious eggplant while rolling over in bed or hitting their erection against a door or wall in the dark. 

Thankfully, the process for treating it is quite straightforward – a surgeon can repair the tunica albuginea and any other ruptures with stitches. It is important to seek medical aid as quicky as you can after experiencing the trauma.  

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.  

All “explainer” articles are confirmed by fact checkers to be correct at time of publishing. Text, images, and links may be edited, removed, or added to at a later date to keep information current. 


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