This article originally appeared on VICE Asia
Doctors in Papua New Guinea are urging people around the country to please, for the love of God, stop injecting foreign substances into their dicks. A worrying trend of off licence penis enlargements has been taking the nation by storm in recent years, with insecure individuals pumping coconut oil, baby oil, cooking oil, and silicone into their genitals to hopefully get a bit more length and girth. And the results are typically grim.
Akule Danlop, a surgeon at Port Moresby General Hospital, told The Guardian that over the past two years alone his clinic had treated at least 500 patients who were experiencing penile disfigurement and dysfunction problems after undergoing the injections.
“I have seen five new cases every week for the past two years and these are the ones that have come forward for treatment. We don’t know how many of them are out there,” Akule said. “I saw seven today.”
The undesirable consequences that come from administering a range of household oils and silicone into penises are easy to imagine. Enlargement often does occur in some sense of the word—but not in any kind of positive way.
“The bulk of [the patients] have abnormal, lumpy masses growing over the penis and sometimes involving the scrotum,” Akule explained. “A good number are coming in with ulcers; they eventually burst open. Some of them have difficulty urinating because the foreskin is so swollen it cannot contract.
“Predominantly they regret what they have done.”
In certain cases patients have damaged their erectile muscle with the procedure, making it difficult for them to get erections. But for Akule, the only surgeon in Port Moresby who’s able to treat these kinds of conditions, the penis-injecting craze is causing other issues: namely, a drain on medical resources that could be effectively allocated elsewhere.
“There’s cancer, there are other conditions,” he said. “It’s a bit frustrating to see these cases when you have other people who deserve [help] and then these people are causing themselves harm, they do it to themselves.”
Demographically, the people performing the procedure span a range of ages and social groups. Akule has treated teens as young as 16 and adults over 55—although they usually fall between the ages of 18 and 40.
“There are guys who are in respectable jobs like working at law firms," he explained. "It’s right across PNG. It’s not only Moresby.”
Throughout the provinces of Lae, Vanimo, Madang, and Goroka, people are being “conned” into undergoing the enlargement process—and Glen Mola, professor of reproductive health, obstetrics, and gynaecology at the University of PNG, suggests it’s mainly male nurses who are performing the procedure “off licence”.
“It’s nothing to do with their regular job. They’re making money on the side,” said Glen. “It’s a sort of hype: ‘I can do this for you, I can produce something big for you.’ They [the patients] fall for this… [But] it doesn’t do what it’s purported to do… and can mean in some cases that you can’t have sex anymore.”
Akule is interested in getting to the root of the trend and finding out why so many people are choosing to inject their dicks with “fillers”. He, along with multiple other doctors, has been collecting data on the patients he treats and documenting their reasons for undergoing the procedure in the first place. Specifically, Akule wants to know whether exposure to porn has had anything to do with the recent craze.
Last year, a study out of Melbourne’s Monash University probed the reasons why so many Australians were undergoing penis enlargement, and found the vast majority underwent the procedure to improve their self-esteem, the ABC reported. In that case, researchers Gemma Sharp and Jayson Oates found that most victims had an average-sized penis to begin with, suggesting “it probably goes to show that the genitalia shown in pornography is on the particularly large side, so everyone would feel inadequate compared to them."
The reasons given by Akube’s patients, however, seem to be a little bit more altruistic.
“Mainly the reason they’ve said [they underwent the procedure] is to increase the length and the girth of [their penis] to enhance their sexual experience with their partner,” he said.
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This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.