Medically reviewed by Graham Rogers, M.D. — written by Valencia Higuera — to update on respectable 14, 2018

What is priapism?

Priapism is condition that causes persistent and sometimes pains erections. This is when an erection large for four hours or much more without sexual stimulation. Priapism is uncommon, but when it occurs, it generally affects males in your 30s.

Low-flow, or ischemic priapism occurs as soon as blood becomes grounding in the erection chamber. A damaged artery the prevents ideal circulation that blood in the penis causes high-flow, or nonischemic priapism. This can be because of an injury.

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An erection that lasts longer than 4 hours is a clinical emergency. The oxygen-deprived blood in your cock can damage tissue in the penis. Untreated priapism can an outcome in damage or destruction of penile tissue and permanent erectile dysfunction.

The symptom of this condition vary depending upon whether you endure low-flow or high-flow priapism. If you have low-flow priapism, you may experience:

erections lasting for much more than four hoursrigid penile shaft with a soft tippenis pain

Low-flow or ischemic priapism can end up being a recurrent condition. Once symptoms begin, involuntary erections may only last for a few minutes or a short length the time. Together time moves on, this erections occur an ext and last longer.

If you have high-flow priapism, you’ll have actually some that the same symptoms together low-flow priapism. The main distinction is that pain doesn’t take place with high-flow priapism.

Any erection lasting an ext than 4 hours without sexual stimulation is thought about a clinical emergency.

A normal prick erection is one that occurs since of physical or physiological stimulation. An increase in blood flow to the penis reasons the erection. When the stimulation ends, yes sir a to decrease in blood flow and also the erection goes away.

With priapism, yes a trouble with blood circulation to your penis. Various conditions influence how blood flows in and also out the the penis. This disorders and diseases include:

sickle cell anemialeukemiamultiple myeloma

About 42 percent of adults who have actually sickle cell anemia experience priapism at some point in your lives.

Priapism can likewise occur if friend take details prescription medications or abuse alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal drugs. Prescription medicines that may influence blood flow to the dick include:

medications for erectile dysfunctionantidepressantsalpha blockersmedications for anxiety disordersblood thinnershormone therapymedications for fist deficit hyperactivity disordercarbon monoxide poisoningblack widow spider bitemetabolism disorderneurogenic disordercancers including the penis

Even despite both species of priapism have similar symptoms, your doctor has to run diagnostic test to recognize whether you have low-flow or high-flow priapism. The treatment alternatives differ depending on the exact form of the condition.

Sometimes, doctors have the right to diagnose priapism based on symptoms and also a physics examination that the genital area. Tests supplied to identify the form of priapism may include:

Blood gas measurement

This procedure entails inserting a needle into your penis and also collecting a blood sample. If the sample reveals that blood in your dick is deprived of oxygen, you have actually low-flow priapism. Yet if the sample discover bright red blood, you have actually high-flow priapism.

Blood tests

Since priapism deserve to be brought about by other diseases and also blood disorders, your physician may also collect a blood sample to examine your level the red blood cells and platelets. This can assist your physician diagnose blood disorders, cancers, and sickle cell anemia.

Toxicology test

Priapism is likewise associated v drug abuse, so your doctor may collect a urine sample come look for drugs in your system.


Doctors usage an ultrasound to measure blood flow in the penis. This test also helps your doctor recognize whether trauma or injury is the underlying cause of priapism.

Treatment depends on even if it is you have actually low-flow or high-flow priapism.

If you have low-flow priapism, your doctor might use a needle and also syringe to eliminate excess blood from her penis. This have the right to relieve pain and stop involuntary erections.

Another treatment method involves injecting medication into your penis. The medication will certainly shrink the blood vessels moving blood right into your penis, and expand the blood vessels carrying blood the end of her penis. Raised blood flow can minimize an erection.

If neither of this therapies work, her doctor might recommend surgical procedure to assist blood flow through your penis.

If you have actually high-flow priapism, prompt treatment might not be necessary. This type of priapism frequently goes far on that is own. Your medical professional may check your condition before prescribing a treatment. Cold therapy with ice packs can remove an involuntary erection. Sometimes, doctors indicate surgery to avoid blood circulation to the penis, or to repair arteries damaged by one injury to the penis.

When priapism is recurrent, friend can also talk to your doctor around taking a decongestant such together phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine) to minimize blood flow to the penis. Lock may additionally use hormone-blocking drugs or drugs for erectile dysfunction. If one underlining condition causes priapism, such as sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder, or cancers, look for treatment because that the underlying difficulty to correct and prevent future cases of priapism.

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The outlook because that priapism is good if you obtain prompt treatment. For the best possible outcome, it’s necessary that friend seek help for an extensive erections. Particularly if the trouble is persistent, not resulted in by an injury, and also doesn’t answers to ice therapy. If left untreated, you rise the risk of long-term erectile dysfunction.


Medically reviewed by Graham Rogers, M.D. — composed by Valencia Higuera — to update on respectable 14, 2018