In some cases, an erection can last for more than few hours leading to this condition. The penis contains spongy tissues that expand when blood flow to this region increases due to the excitement. The vein valves close during this phase that helps the penis to stay in this stage of excitement. Once the valves relax, it allows blood to flow back and the penis returns to its normal stage. However, when you are affected with Priapism, the blood flow gets affected and the erection lasts for the unusually long duration. In many cases, it can even happen without any sexual arousal and become painful. The surprising thing about this condition is that it can even happen to kids in some cases. It usually happens due to sickle cell disease and other medications used for depression and other medical conditions. You need to take this condition seriously if it lasts for more than a few hours and approach your doctor. After proper diagnosis, treating this condition becomes easy and minor remedies like using ice packs and other medication can give relief in most cases. Only in rare cases, surgical methods are used to remove the blood from the blocked region and the artery causing this condition will be treated to avoid further complications.

Types of Priapism

-  Low flow priapism : In this situation, blood gets blocked in the penis and causes an erection for long hours. Even in this situation, the erection is usually not related to sexual stimulation. However, this can be painful and you need emergency medical treatment for this problem. In some cases, this condition will be recurrent in some people who are suffering from sickle cell anaemia.

-  High flow priapism : The most common symptom of this condition is that the erection is usually not related to sexual excitement and it lasts for more than few hours. The blood flow to the penis is not regulated properly and leads to this condition. The surprising thing about this condition is that it is not painful in most cases.

Symptoms of Priapism

The most obvious symptom of this condition is the erection that is not related to sexual stimulation. It will not go away on its own and it lasts for unusually long periods causing pain and swelling in many cases. In some cases, it may not be painful but the erection will still last for many hours without any stimulation or excitement. This condition can affect even children when they are suffering from sickle cell anaemia or other blood-related disorders.

Causes of Priapism

- This condition is primarily caused due to blocking of blood in the penile region due to damaged nerves or blood vessels. This can happen when you are suffering from blood-related diseases like leukaemia or sickle cell anaemia. Even kids can get this condition when they are suffering from such blood disorders.

- In some cases, medication taken to treat erectile dysfunction or depression can also trigger this condition in many individuals. Some hormone releasing drugs can also cause this condition and you need to be very careful about such side effects.

- Long-term use of alcohol and drugs can also lead to this condition and it can be very painful to deal with this situation. You need to approach your doctor as soon as you notice such symptoms and get the required treatment to avoid further complications.

- This condition can also be caused due to injury to the penis and this will affect the blood flow to this region. Apart from that, in rare cases, even cancer can also cause this condition.

Diagnosis of Priapism

A simple physical examination will determine the condition in most cases and your doctor will suggest a blood test to determine the cause of this condition. This will help them to check if the issue is due to blood disorders like sickle cell anaemia. Apart from that, the oxygen level in the blood is measured by checking the blood sample from the affected area. If the oxygen level is very less, it confirms the condition and further treatment will be given to the patient. Finally, the ultrasound test will be helpful to analyze the blood circulation in the penile region.

Prevention of Priapism

- It is possible to prevent future attacks of priapism when you take suitable medication to cure the underlying conditions. If you are getting priapism due to sickle cell anaemia, you need to get treated for this issue as this will help you to avoid this condition in future.

- In the same manner, using oral medication that will help to block certain hormones can be used to avoid this problem in the future. However, this is suitable only in the case of adults as this can affect growing children in many ways and create other complications.

- Some medications that are used to treat erectile dysfunction can also give you relief from such problem in future. However, you should not try them yourself as your doctor will analyze your situation carefully and prescribe the right dosage for that medication.

- You should also lead an active lifestyle and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking as this can cause erectile dysfunction problems at a later stage and lead to this condition due to the intake of any drugs.

Treatment for Priapism

- It is very important to get timely treatment for this condition as this can lead to erectile dysfunction in the long run. In most cases, you need emergency medical treatment to handle the situation as it can be painful and cause damage in quick time.

- The first thing that doctors do to reduce the erection is to use ice packs on the affected area. This can help in reducing the swelling and it will also help ease the pain in many cases. You can even try to do it yourself at home if you do not have access to medical facilities in that crucial situation.

- The next step is to remove the blood that is blocked in the penis. This is done after using medication to numb the affected area. A small needle will be inserted inside the penis to drain the blood that is blocked in that region. This will immediately reduce the pressure and the erection will come down to normal within quick time. It will also be beneficial in reducing the swelling of the penis.

- In some cases, inserting the needle at the right place may not be possible and medication is used to reduce the pressure and ease the blood flow in the penis. These medications narrow the blood vessels and the blood flow to this region will be reduced. This medication can be injected into the patient or it can also be given in the form of pills as per the demand of the situation.

- In advanced cases where the blood vessels are affected too much, it becomes necessary to block the artery that is causing the problem. This is also a surgical process and it is only used when other methods are not giving effective results.

- In some cases, the artery will be ruptured inside the penis due to trauma or any other condition. In this situation, it becomes essential to tie the artery using a surgical process and this will reduce the flow of blood to this region and bring down the erection.

- The surgical shunt process is used when the blood is not blocked and this will be able to drain the blood from this region. However, this method has some side effects and it can result in erectile dysfunction problems at a later stage.

- For this reason, you should always consult a professional doctor who can handle such tasks as this can help you to get back to normal state and you will also not suffer any side effects in future due to the treatment.

Complications of Priapism

- You should always treat this condition with proper care as it can affect the sexual performance in future. Remember that this can affect men of any age and even kids can get this condition as it is not related to sexual arousal in many cases.

- Whenever you notice any symptoms of an abnormal erection that lasts for a long duration, you should take it as a warning sign and immediately approach your doctor for proper medical treatment. Especially when this condition happens without any sexual arousal on its own, you need to be extra careful and immediately get medical treatment.

- During this condition, the erection can last for more than few hours and this cuts off the supply of oxygen to the penis. In this situation, it can lead to disfigurement of the penis at a later stage and you may not be able to treat this condition with so many complications.

- When the blood is stuck in this region for more than four hours, it can damage the tissues as it will be deprived of oxygen. In this situation, the damage can be temporary or even permanent in many cases. For this reason, you should always watch the symptoms carefully and avail emergency medical treatment if the condition lasts for more than few hours.

- Similarly, when proper attention is not paid to treating this condition, it can lead to erectile dysfunction later and affect your sexual activities. You will lose confidence and this can create further problems with your married life.

Myths about Priapism

Myth #1: Priapism will go away on its own

Most people believe that they are having a prolonged erection due to the effect of some drugs or other things. In this situation, when the erection lasts for abnormally long hours, they tend to think that it will go away on its own without any problems. However, this is not true and you will always need professional treatment to get rid of this erection problem. In rare cases, it can last for an entire day and cause severe damage to the blood tissues in the penis region.

Myth #2: Priapism affects only adults

The most surprising thing about this condition is that it need not be related to sexual activities. It can even affect kids and cause severe pain in the penis. You should be watchful about the symptoms and ensure that you get immediate treatment to handle the condition. You can get this condition even when you are not sexually excited and the erection can last for a long duration without any reason.

Myth #3: Priapism does not cause erectile dysfunction

It is a complete myth and the condition has to be taken seriously as this can easily lead to erectile dysfunction in the long run. In many cases, you are likely to suffer from ED when the priapism has lasted for a long duration without any treatment as it does permanent damage to blood tissues in these cases. In other cases, you may even face ED issues after the surgery is performed to treat this condition as this can affect the normal blood flow to the penis.

Myth #4: Surgery is the only way to treat priapism

While surgery is used in most cases to treat priapism, it is not the only option left to treat the condition. In fact, surgery is the last choice as the doctors always try to ease the pain and pressure using medication and physical therapy. When all these options are not giving the desired results, they resort to surgery as it can easily drain the blood from the blocked region and give quick relief from pain and swelling of the penis.


As you can notice, you need to be aware of the complications that can be caused by this condition. You need to treat this as a medical emergency and get in touch with your doctor as soon as you notice that the erection is not going away even after a few hours. When you have an erection without any excitement in the first place, you need to be worried and if it lasts for a long duration, you should call your doctors and visit the hospital to get suitable treatment. Remember that getting timely treatment will ensure that you will not have any long-term complications out of this condition. However, when you do not get timely treatment or when surgery results in some damage to the blood vessels or artery, it can result in erectile dysfunction problems in the long run.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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