Australian Prisoners Are Giving Themselves DIY Penis Implants Known As “Speed Bumps”

Researchers at the University of New South Wales made a disturbing discovery while studying sexual risk behaviors in Australian prisons. They noticed a rise in prisoners with genital skin infections due to bead-like foreign bodies being inserted under the penis.Digging deeper into the phenomenon, the research team discovered that nearly six percent of male prisoners in Queensland and New South Wales were giving themselves these DIY penis implants, the majority of them while they were behind bars. Warning: the details are gruesome, so if you’re eating or weak of stomach, prepare yourself, cross your legs.

The survey, which was recently published in Plos One, found that these bead-like penile implants, known as “pearls,” “Yakuza beads,” “penile marbles” or “speed bumps,” were made from melted toothpaste caps, buttons, dice, and deodorant roller balls and inserted into the penis skin using a ballpoint pen. Although the survey didn’t ask the prisoners to specify their reason for the implants, researchers theorize that “speed bumps” are desirable for a few reasons: to make the implanted penis more memorable to sexual partners, to pledge allegiance to a gang or to inflict pain during sex. The prisoners with penile implants were found to be more likely to engage in prostitution, have body piercings or tattoos, to have taken non-prescription drugs while in prison, to have a homosexual encounter with a fellow inmate, or to have hepatitis C.

“Clearly since they don’t have access to sterilized scalpel blades, or even disposable scalpel blades, there’s got to be a risk, as a minimum, of local wound infection,” said Basil Donovan, one of the authors of the survey. “They also wouldn’t have access to suture materials, so they would probably tape it [the wound] over with sticky tape or something.”

The research team believes this is cause for much concern. “As most of these penile implants are inserted in prison, these men are at risk of blood borne viruses and wound infection. Harm reduction and infection control strategies need to be developed to address this potential risk,” the survey concluded. [The Atlantic]