Male readers of the internet crossed their legs and let out a unified grimace of pain when a story made the rounds about a 70-year-old Australian man who got a fork lodged in his dong. While plenty of people who read the report (or even worse, saw the pictures) had no idea why a person would try to shove anything—especially a rouge piece of cutlery—up his pee slit, those of us who frequent the kinkier side of life know this is a fairly common practice known as "sounding."
If you really want an education, search for the term on XTube (NSFW, idiot), and revel in a variety of videos featuring guys putting all sorts of junk into their junk. Yeah, it's not really my bag, either. But not everyone is going around putting forks or pencils or other household items up there all willy nilly. You can get a surgical urethral sounding kit for about $60 delivered right to your front door for your own perverted enjoyment. These kits include the same smooth metal cylinders, sometimes curved, that are used in doctors' offices. That seems a bit safer than a fork, but I wanted to find out if there was a surefire way to have fun with your personal geyser hole without ending up in the ER, so I called Dr. Frank Spinelli, a Manhattan internist and author, to talk about the practice of sounding and its dangers.
VICE: Hello, Doctor. I'd like to talk about the pros and cons of sticking stuff up your pee hole, otherwise known as "sounding." What is the surgical purpose of sounds?
Spinelli: You have a urethra, which is what carries urine and semen out of your penis. For some people that might be small or narrow, just anatomically speaking. A urologist can dilate your urethra by using various sized sounds. They probe to increase the diameter, and they can locate an obstruction.
How far should you go down?
That depends on how big the sound is, but you don't want to go too far. It's used as an instrumentation. They use catheters in the same way, to get into the bladder so you can relive someone of their urine when they're in surgery. These are all done under heavy medical guidance by people who have been trained.
Why do you think people do this in a sexual way?
They use metal or glass and put it in the urethra, and then there is some sort of stimulation involved. I'm going to say that this is in the realm of why people like to get fisted. It's beyond the scope of natural sexual interactions. It's right up there with bondage. It's in the category of kinky. I've seen it in movies and in pictures. I don't get it, personally, and as a doctor it scares me.
What's so scary about it?
What scares me is that you're blindly instrumenting a part of your body and, as you would expect from any layperson, you don't know what you're doing. Just as a doctor might be unsure because he can't see what he's doing.
What do you mean?
Let's say I have a perfectly sterile sound and I'm met with some resistance and it goes in. My partner would be excited because it went in, and I would probably be excited because I'm giving him gratification. But what I might do is create a blind tract. Image the hole in a donut, and I put a sound in the hole. When you're putting the sound through the hole, image that it goes through the cakey part of the donut. That is a blind track. Now if you get older and you need a catheter for any reason, they'll be sticking it into that blind tract and they won't be able to get urine out of you.
OK. Give it to me straight, doctor: What's the worst that can happen?
Well, the example I just gave you was with a sterile sound. What about when it's not sterile? You're sticking something that might be dirty into someone's urethra. You can get a urinary tract infection; you can get urethritis; you can get STDs... Do you know what Human Papillomavirus is? It's the virus that causes genital warts. I saw a patient who was sounded with a dirty sound and he developed warts in his urethra that went all along the shaft of the inside of his penis. All you saw was warts when you looked inside.
When you ask a doctor, they come up with all the things that could go wrong. I know that there are people who say it makes them feel great, but as far as I'm concerned I think of all the things that could go wrong.
When doctors do it, how do they even get it in there? Tons of lube?
Of course, but that's someone who has been trained. When you have some expertise with the human body, you know how to not push through. Remember, this isn't done routinely. Now there are scopes that allow you to look inside the urethra so it's not done blindly.
What are the long-term effects for someone who does this all the time?
It's the trauma that comes with distorting the anatomy—you could be peeing out of a different hole, you could damage the inside of the urethra, and that can cause scarring, which can cause plaque to build up in the urethra, which can cause Peyronie's Disease, which can make your penis curve one way or another.
Thank you, Doctor. You've scared me straight (not literally). I will keep things out of my penis from here on out.