Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and mars -- these song lyrics were all too true for one New Zealand woman. An overly enthusiastic hickey from her partner landed her in the hospital with a minor stroke.
The 44-year-old Maori woman was brought to Middlemore Hospital in Aukland, New Zealand with a paralyzed left arm, doctors reported in a case study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in November. Doctors were puzzled by her symptoms until they realized that there had been a clot in an artery on the right side of her neck beneath where she still showed the bruising of a hickey.
"Because it was a love bite, there would be a lot of suction. Because of the physical trauma, it had made a bit of bruising inside the vessel" causing a clot, Dr. Teddy Wu, who treated the patient, told the New Zealand press. The clot apparently resulted in a stroke.
This appears to be the only documented case of a hickey-related stroke, but in general, getting hurt in the heat of passion is not that uncommon, doctors say.
A 2010 U.K. poll found that a third of the British reported having had a sex-related injury, most often involving non-traditional settings for sex, such as on stairs, over kitchen tables, or in closets.
Americans aren't strangers to carnal catastrophe either, doctors say. Whether a simple muscle pull, a fractured penis, or a heart attack brought on by overzealous love-making, ER doctors "see just about everything, for better or for worse," said Dr. Corey Slovis, chair of the department of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University.
One of the most notorious sexual boo-boos is "breaking" the penis through a penile fracture. This usually occurs when an erect penis is bent forcefully, causing the engorged tissue to tear. Victims will often hear a popping or cracking sound, followed by searing pain, said Slovis.
One patient, a man in his sixties, suffered a fracture when he fell down while masturbating. He attempted to rush to the door to lock it when he heard his mother trying to get in, Dr. Billy Goldberg, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the NYU School of Medicine told ABCnews.com.
More often than not, penile fractures occur during sexual intercourse, when the woman is on top, Slovis said. Julieanne Smolinski, 26, a New Yorker and blogger for Lemondrop.com, recounted her own such bedroom blunder to ABCnews.com:
"I did a kind of accidental back handspring off my boyfriend and cracked myself on the head," she said, but "my boyfriend got the worst of it and 'fractured' his penis. We didn't seek medical attention, [but] later I read that penile fractures can be really serious," she said, wondering in retrospect if they should have taken him to the hospital.
In the case of a true fracture, immediate medical attention is essential, Slovis said. The torn tissue often needs to be operated on and delaying treatment -- which men often do out of embarrassment -- only increases the chance of permanent damage.
And when emergency doctors say they see "any and everything" come into their ER, bizarre sexual injury is no exception.
"People do some strange stuff," Goldberg said, noting that he gets "a lot of rectal foreign bodies." One man had to be brought to the hospital by his mother after a screwdriver became lodged in his rectum during a sexual act.