Get the Health Check podcast Dr Dean says that several of his patients have discussed with him their experience of getting stuck over the years, more out of curiosity than because it was a major problem. He draws a distinction between penis captivus and the more common and serious condition of vaginismus, in which a woman's vaginal muscles contract involuntarily, preventing intercourse. Two reviews of the history of penis captivus, published in and , highlight the public's longstanding fascination with it.
In , Geoffrey de La Tour-Landry related how a voluptuary named Pers Lenard "delt fleshely with a woman" on top of an altar of a church, and God "tyed hem faste togedre dat night". The following day the whole town saw the couple still entwined "fast like a dogge and biche togedre".
Finally prayers were spoken and the couple's prolonged intercourse came to an end although they were obliged to return to the church on three Sundays, strip naked and beat themselves in front of the congregation.
Image copyright Unknown Image caption Mars and Venus depicted by 16th Century artist Raphael Regius Special Collections, University of Vermont Captivus features in several other medieval myths and stories, which F Kraupl Taylor, the author of the review , believes may bear "only a tenuous connection with the actual facts".
He is similarly sceptical about an account from about an event in Warsaw in the s, which ended with a double suicide. This time, penis captivus afflicted lovers trysting in a garden after closing time, and the couple were only separated when the woman was put under anaesthetic. But the real tragedy came after journalists - "in their greed for sensational facts" - published the story.
Cold water cure "When I was a student at Leyden there was a young Bridegroom in that Town that being overwanton with his Bride had so hamper'd himself in her Privities, that he could not draw his Yard forth, till Delmehorst the Physician unty'd the knot by casting cold Water on the Part. The woman underwent an "involuntary spasm", the man - a dock labourer - became trapped, and a great crowd gathered to watch.
Eventually the couple were carted off to a hospital, chloroform was administered to the woman and they were freed. In a manual of gynaecology, the author Walter Stoeckel speculated that penis captivus only affected couples engaged in illicit sex, the fear of detection presumably contributing to the force of the woman's muscular spasm.
This opinion is no longer held by experts, but the narrative of a clandestine meeting followed by public humiliation continues. Recent media reports of penis captivus - in Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe and the Philippines - all concern adulterous couples.
Image copyright Unknown Image caption A YouTube video showed crowds gathering around a house in Nairobi, where a couple were reportedly experiencing captivus The Kenyan incident in supposedly occurred after the cuckolded husband paid a visit to a witch doctor.
He was filmed going to an ATM to withdraw the money. The Zimbabwean media reported last year that a woman was bringing a law case against her long-term boyfriend for putting "runyoka" on her - a fidelity spell that caused her to get stuck on her lover. As one report put it , she was demanding compensation from the jealous boyfriend "for humiliating her and trying to control how she should use her private part".
But there are several accounts of penis captivus taking place within a marriage, including two unsensational case studies from 19th Century German gynaecologists. Perhaps the best verified example of the phenomenon also occurred during marriage. This account was corroborated by another doctor who had been on duty at the time.
Dr John Dean says that he can't explain this "very unusual" story, since people experiencing captivus generally have trouble disengaging for only a few seconds.