What is priapism?
While many men struggle to keep an erection, others suffer from a seemingly never-ending one. Priapism occurs when an erection persists for too long, sometimes hours. Sometimes, priapism is not related to sex at all. Too much of a good thing is no longer good. Men with priapism often experience great pain.
What causes priapism?
Such prolonged erection may be caused by a medical condition such as sickle cell anemia, certain medications (antidepressants, alpha blockers, blood thinners, ect.), trauma to the spinal cord or the genitals, poisonous bites (from black widow spiders or scorpions), carbon monoxide poisoning, and recreational drug use (marijuana or cocaine). In some cases, priapism may be caused by a cancer that prevents the blood from leaving the penis.
When to worry about your erection?
If your erection lasts for over 4 hours, you should seek medical help immediately. Your doctor will need to know how long your erection has lasted, how long your erections usually last, any drug or substance you have been using lately, and any injury you sustained. Your doctor will have a look at your medical record and perform a physical exam to find the root of your problem. Your abdomen and rectum will be checked for signs of cancer. Further tests may be required, including blood tests and imaging tests.
How to treat priapism?
Treatment for priapism aims to remove the prolonged erection without harming the patient’s sexual function. An ice pack may help ease the swelling in mild cases. Your doctor may use a needle to remove the blood stuck in your penis to help release the pressure. Medications may be required to restrict the blood flowing to the penis. Drugs can be administered orally or through an injection.
For more severe cases, doctors will perform a procedure called an arterial embolization. During this procedure, they will block the artery that is causing the trouble. When the prolonged erection is caused by a ruptured artery, your doctor will perform a surgical ligation to tie it off. Sometimes, you may need a surgical shunt to create a pathway allowing the blood to drain from your penis. However, this procedure may raise your risk of erectile dysfunction later.
If you suspect priapism, get medical help. Do not try to fix it yourself or you may risk causing much more damage to your penis and your sexual function. Timely treatment will guarantee you a promising outlook. Most people who receive proper treatment in time recover quickly with minimal damage.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.