Fifth Estate # 54, May 16-31, 1968

photo, Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld speaking at Community Arts Auditorium, May 28, 1969
Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld speaking at Community Arts Auditorium, May 28, 1969 at a benefit for Open City. Photo: Alan Gotkin.

QUESTION: I have an unusual “problem” concerning my penis when I have an erection. When not aroused, it is small and appears to be very normal. When I have an erection, it grows very large and has a pronounced curve downwards. In other words, it is bent toward the ground.

Thus far, I have experienced no trouble with intercourse because of the curve I have experienced difficulty, because of my penis’ size, with gaining entry.

I have had several homosexual experiences and I know that mine is not a completely unknown “ailment”. I know little else about it, not having discussed it with anyone. What causes it? Should I consult a doctor?

P. S. I am very serious. Please answer.

ANSWER: As you know from your own experience, penises which curve downwards during erection are somewhat unusual but not unknown in medicine. One cause may be a kind of congenital defect which prevents part of the skin from stretching, thus producing the downward curve. Another, though less likely, reason could be a urethral stricture following chronic untreated gonorrhea.

Usually, the only problem, if any, is a cosmetic one; occasionally there is pain as well. In either case a urologist could set you straight.

QUESTION: As a result of a very puritanical upbringing, I became extremely self -conscious about my penis after the age of puberty and wore a very tight athletic supporter to avert the risk of any embarrassing bulges in my trousers in my pubic area.

Because of this—at least I assume it was the cause—my penis became somewhat curved in shape during erection. I wish to know if there is any method of alleviating this condition, and, if so, whom should I consult?

ANSWER: A lot of curves being thrown this week. Which way? Up?

Down? Left? Right? A slight curve up or a list to right or left is normal. For the names of urologists in your area call the nearest medical school or your county medical society.

QUESTION: When at home by myself sometimes walking around in the nude or while taking a shower, I get an erection. What bothers me is when I think of going to a public place like a gymnasium to work out or a Turkish bath or some other place where I may be taking off my clothes, I worry that I may get an erection in front of members of my fellow sex in such a place. I know that all men get erections but should I be concerned about getting one in a public place?

How do other men feel about this? Does this ever happen to them, and, if so, does it bother them? Should I consider this a problem? I have never brought this up to anybody before because I thought I might be abnormal.

ANSWER: Your “problem” is one that almost all men have worried about, especially younger men but these fears are usually never expressed, except, perhaps, to a psychiatrist.

Some solutions suggested by patients—jump into a cold shower, think of jumping into a cold shower, think of making it with one of the Johnson girls, try to make it with one of the Johnson girls, remember the first time a policeman’s flashlight shone into your car when you were making it in the back seat, think of Doris Day, recall a hospital or university cafeteria meal. The possibilities for turn-offs are endless. Another possibility is not to worry about it.

Dr. Schoenfeld welcomes your questions. Write to him c/o, P.O. Box 9002, Berkeley, Calif. 94719.