Do Not Bend: Erectile Dysfunction Mystery Solved!

Funny story written by anemi

Friday, 25 May 2007


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Gravity can be the wait of the world for many men, often not discussed because of the sensitive nature of the tissue. Bearing the burden of a heavy proof, erectile dysfunction (ED) is nothing more than a classical mechanical engineering problem, says a US urologist.

Thanks to mathematical models of penile geometry and hydrostatic pressure, doctors can predict when penises will fail, so says the Doc, Daniel Udelson, a research urologist and professor of aerospace engineering at Boston University.

Because I slept through physics, I was reminded, the most widely investigated parameter of penile rigidity (a boner) is Intracavernosal Pressure (a pre-boner, or ICP) - the fluid pressure achieved by blood build-up (a rush) in the two expandable "caverns" of the penis. For a healthy man, the erect ICP is between 60 and 90 millimeters, but can drop to just 30 millimeters in men with erectile dysfunction (ED, or; no boner).

That penis "bucklometer" thing up there in the picture proves it, and I'm betting you're going to see this handy item in the just before Christmas issue of the Sharper Image Catalog. I mean, Richard Thalheimer owes me royal dutch for that suck-ass "Ionic Breeze" I got last year, which just "sits there," doing little more than circulating hot air, not unlike its nameless giver.

Lest you have slept for the past ten years, anti-impotence drugs, such as Viagra, work by relaxing arterial muscles and allowing more blood, and hence more pressure, to build up in the penis. (I have no problem in discussing sensitive tissues with you, my friends and rabid readers. I share your pain, and offer a science backed bedroom excuse; "Damn ICP, I told you not to bend!)

But Dr. Udelson, needed more, and began thinking about penis geometry - specifically the ratio of width to length (aka a right angle) and how this ought to play a significant role in the robustness of an erection against the force of sexual intercourse (e.g; a not so robust sexual recipient).

So, what Dr. Udelson did (hide the children), was develop a model that would predict the buckling force, based on penis length, circumference and the ease of expandability over a range of ICPs. This weird science is a direct adaptation of building column buckling research by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler, whose 300th birthday was this past April 15. (Three ironies of note: 1. April 15 is indeed a back "buckling" day for many. 2. Euler is pronounced, "oiler." 3. "Leonhard" is a name derivative of "hard lion). Sorry for the cognitive interuptus, all in the name of science, you know.

Udelson tested the model against 57 men with erectile dysfunction. Each was measured by slowly (thankfully) injecting their penises with saline solution until erect. (What fun!) Udelson then applied a force to the tip of each penis until they started to bend, the first sign of buckling. ("Breaker-breaker, good buddy!" Again, sorry, but note; 1. Finding ED sufferers is easy, just a walk in the park, and why the "sample" was expanded to 57 is because, "variety is the spice of life," I recall. 2. I was busy, and did not contact Dr. U to find out percentages and performances amongst cut and uncut species 3. Like you, I was mildly curious if money changed hands here, but there are polite limits to questioning allowed, lest you appear a "jerk" in this august scholastic circle).

Now, witnesses attested the model correctly predicted the buckling forces for 80% of the enduring patients. Force applied ranged from about 2 kilograms to just 0.3 kg, given a pressure of 50 millimeters. Doctor U also rightly postulated the buckling force during intercourse doesn't just rely a man's blood flow and penis shape, but also depends on the destination of the penis. (Bravo! 57 hard dicks, and no friends. And, no, I was not an invited witness or otherwise. This is indeed earth moving, rocket science thinking, here).

Previous studies have found that the force required in penetration depends on orifice diameter and lubrication, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 kg. So, "an individual male may exhibit ED with one partner but not with another," said Udelson. Brilliant, I say! (Note: Theorem ~ lubrication is to slick as Euler is to "oiler").

Not to belittle Doctor Udelson's research, as I'm always a little miffed with myself for lack of self-pressure and sometimes desire, when long ago I too was in the protective womb of the University. I sincerely hope the trustees at Boston U fully appreciate the painstaking thrust behind this climactic study and future ramifications.

Likewise, due to restraint, my spotty homage to Leonhard Euler is nothing more than embarrassing. Euler's principles enabled erection of taller structures, most notably and firstly; the Eiffel Tower, and he was indeed a man who came well before his time.

As a belated birthday tribute, I relate in 1727, Leonhard entered the "Paris Academy Prize Problem competition," where the problem that year was to find the best way to place the masts on a ship. He won second place, losing only to Pierre Bouguer, a man now known as "the father of naval architecture." Euler, however, would eventually win the coveted annual prize twelve times in his career. ("Hey, Sailor Boy!" Three closing notes here: 1. On losing the prize, "getting it up is not the same as getting it in." 2. On twelve subsequent conquests; "try, try again, patience is a virtue, all good thingsā€¦" 3. To Pierre Bouguer; "whatever floats your boat").


Our Research ~ Journal reference: UK Journal of the Royal Society Interface (DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2007.0221)

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