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Priapism is a prolonged erection of the penis and can usually be painful. The erection usually last for hours after sexual stimulation.

Although priapism is an uncommon condition overall, it effects men between the ages of 5 and 10, and 20-50. Treatment for priapism is usually needed to prevent tissue damage that could result in the inability to get or maintain an erection ( dysfunction).

What Causes Priaprism?

Some cases of Priaprism are the result of sickle cell anemia. Another common cause of Priaprism can be medications including the use/misuse of Desyrel, thorazine and dysfunction medications. Other causes include trauma to the genital area, spinal cord injury, spider bites (black widow), carbon monoxide poisoning, marijuana and cocaine abuse.  

What Are the Symptoms of Priapism?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of priapism. The two main types of priapism are ischemic and nonischemic priapism. Ischemic priapism Ischemic priapism, also called low-flow priapism, is the result of blood not being able to leave the penis. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Erection lasting more than four hours or unrelated to sexual interest or stimulation
  • Rigid penile shaft, but the tip of penis (glans) is soft
  • Progressive penile pain

Nonischemic priapism Nonischemic priapism, also known as high-flow priapism, occurs when penile blood flow isn’t regulated appropriately. Nonischemic priapism is usually painless. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Erection lasting more than four hours or unrelated to sexual interest or stimulation
  • Erect but not fully rigid penile shaft


How is Priaprism is Diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you a series of questions and perform a physical examination. After the exam, your doctor will take a blood gas measurement of the blood from the penis. A small needle is placed in the penis to draw blood and sent to a lab for analysis. This will help determine the type of priaprism, how long it has been present and the extent of damage that has occurred.  

Priaprism Treatment Options

Treatment depends on whether you have low-flow or high flow priaprism. With either type the treatment goal is to make the erection go away and preserve the ability to have future erections. Low-Flow Priaprism If you have low-flow priaprism, a needle can be injected into the penis to remove excess blood, relieving pain and stopping involuntary erections. Intracavernous injection Injectable medications known as alpha-agonists may be used to increase blood flow to help reduce the erection. Surgery may be recommended to help blood flow though your penis.

High-Flow Priaprism Immediate treatment may not be necessary, high-flow priaprism often goes away on its own. Ice packs can aid in getting rid of an erection or your doctor may suggest surgery to stop blood flow or to repair arteries that may have been damaged.  

Questions About Priaprism and Treatment?

If you are experiencing priapism, get emergency help as soon as possible. For treatment and management of priaprism give our adult urology experts at Advanced Urology Associates a call at 815.409.4930 or request an appointment.