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Dear Dr. Roach: I have had inflammatory bowel syndrome for years. I could not go out to eat without having to go to the restroom before leaving. It got so bad that I couldn’t go to weddings, picnics, etc. I started using Metamucil, which made life better, but still I never knew when the cramps and gas would flare up. Then my doctor told me daily probiotics might help. I started taking them every day, and though it didn’t help overnight, the doctor did say to take them for at least a month to see if it works.

What a different world for me. I am 95 percent better! No more cramps that would double me over, no more diarrhea that would leave me exhausted for days, and no more vomiting! I was hoping you could tell your readers of my experience and what a difference it has made in my life. Hopefully, we can help other people.

Anon.

Dear Anon.: The evidence to support the effectiveness of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome is mixed, but I have had some patients with improvements as remarkable as yours. However, it has been my experience that it may matter what type of probiotic you use. I have seen a few people not respond at all to one type and then have a good response to a different one (the difference is the type or types of healthy bacteria used). I think probiotics are a very reasonable option for people who do not respond to lifestyle and dietary changes.

Dear Dr. Roach: What is a fractured penis?

R.C.

Dear R.C.: The word “fractured” isn’t accurate, because there are no bones in the penis. Erections are due to the pressure of the corpus cavernosum being engorged with blood, much like a water balloon. The blood is held under pressure by the tunica albuginea. Under blunt trauma, the tunica albuginea ruptures, often with an audible “pop.” This is immediately followed by pain and swelling.

Use of medications like Viagra may increase the risk of penile fracture. It is an uncommon, but not rare, condition. Urgent surgical evaluation to consider repair is recommended. Without surgery, long-term complications include pain, scarring and loss of function.

Email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.

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