This is a penis condition that is defined as a prolonged and painful erection. This effect may last up to 4 hours without any sexual stimulation. When there is a problem in the mechanism of controlling penile sexual arousal and maintaining penile flaccidity, this penis condition occurs. Other factors that can cause this condition are the excessive release of contractile neurotransmitters, blockage of draining venules, or prolonged relaxation of intracavernous smooth muscles. Usually, it is not possible to ignore this penis condition because blood accumulates in the Corpora cavernosa, which is the main erectile tissue. This effect causes a painful erection.

Types of Priapism

Ischemic Priapism – This is the most common type of priapism also called low-flow priapism. It means that you experience persistent and painful erections and rigidity of the corpora cavernosa. This is a non-sexual erection, which is characterized by low or even no cavernous blood flow. If you ignore this condition, it may lead to complete erectile dysfunction (ED). Many researchers showed that leukemia, malignant lymphoma, alpha-blocker medicines, and psychiatric drugs may provoke this type of priapism.

Non-Ischemic Priapism – This type of penis condition is also a non-sexual erection that is painless and rigid partially. Non-Ischemic priapism or high flow priapism is provoked by high amounts of blood flow into the corpora cavernosa. Excessive unregulated arterial flow usually occurs due to arterial damage, which leads to arterial corporal fistula. However, Ischemic priapism is more often encountered than Non-Ischemic priapism.

Stuttering Priapism – This type of priapism is characterized by recurrent or intermittent erection. In most cases, Sickle Cell Disease is the main cause of Stuttering priapism. This form of penis condition provokes undesired painful erections that occur often.

Causes of Priapism

There are two causes of priapism such as primary and secondary. In primary cause, the condition is not responsible for prolonged erections. However, in the secondary cause, many factors affect penile erection directly or indirectly. Check below some health conditions that can cause priapism:

  • Sickle Cell Disease – This is an inherited red blood cell disorder. It is characterized by blocking the blood and oxygen flow to the body, which leads to severe pain, organ damage, and serious infections. Usually, Sickle Cell Disease occurs when a person inherits the abnormal copies of hemoglobin from their parents.
  • Thalassemia – Decreased production of hemoglobin may be a symptom of this blood condition. There are two types of Thalassemia Alpha-Thalassemia and Beta-Thalassemia. Commonly, the severity of this blood condition depends on the number of genes that are missing.
  • Fabry’s Disease – This life-threatening genetic disorder may occur rarely. A wide range of complications and symptoms such as gastrointestinal pain and extreme full-body pain are common among patients with this condition. People with Fabry’s Disease may experience kidney insufficiency or failure. Additionally, another side effect is cardiac complications.
  • Leukemia – This blood condition is characterized by different types of white and red blood cells and platelets. These blood cells are controlled by the bone marrow. If a disturbance in controlling blood cells occurs, it causes Leukemia. It is still unknown the exact cause of this type of cancer. However, it is believed that environmental and genetic factors play the main role in provoking Leukemia.


Medicines – Phenylephrine is a drug that may be injected into your penile. It constricts blood vessels that carry blood into your genital area. This medicine helps to increase blood flow out of your penis. In addition, you may notice some adverse effects during treatment. For example headaches, dizziness, hypertension (high blood pressure), and others. Discuss with your healthcare provider for more details.

Aspiration Decompression – Using a small needle and syringe, blood is drained from your penis. Additionally, the penis should be flushed with a saline solution before this procedure. It is recommended to repeat this procedure until the erection ends. Aspiration Decompression helps to remove oxygen-poor blood and relieve pain.

Other Procedures or Surgery – If the first two methods are not effective for you, a physician may prescribe surgery to drain blood from your penis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the most effective treatment option for priapism?

Medicine treatment is considered one of the most effective treatments against priapism. Talk to a doctor if you have any questions.

What happens if priapism is not treated?

However, it is not recommended to ignore this penis condition because it may lead to complete Erectile Dysfunction (ED). ED may cause relationship problems, low self-esteem, and other mental disorders. Consult with a doctor for a suitable treatment for you.

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