Priapism is a medical condition in which the erect penis does not return to its flaccid state despite the absence of sexual stimulation or arousal. Priapism can be extremely painful and can even lead to permanent damage to the penis if not treated immediately. Priapism occurs when blood flow to the penis is blocked, causing the tissue to become full of blood.
It can be a side effect of certain medications, but it can also occur in response to an injury or other trauma to the penis. Priapism is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately by a doctor to prevent permanent damage, but can be successfully treated if detected early.
Low-flow and high-flow priapism
There are two main types of priapism: low-flow and high-flow. Low-flow priapism is caused by slow blood flow to the penis and usually occurs without pain. High-flow priapism is caused by rapid blood flow to the penis and is often accompanied by pain.
Cause of priapism
The exact cause of priapism is unknown, but it is thought to be related to an imbalance of certain chemicals in the body that affect blood flow to the penis. In some cases, this imbalance of chemicals in the brain is caused by the use of drugs.
Priapism can also be caused by an injury to the penis or pelvis.
Treatment of priapism
There are several ways to treat priapism, depending on the cause and severity of the condition. If the priapism is caused by an underlying medical condition, treating the underlying condition may help resolve the priapism. In some cases, medication can be used to treat priapism. Medications that can be used to treat priapism include alpha-adrenergic blockers, such as phenoxybenzamine or phentolamine, and vasoconstrictors, such as epinephrine. Surgery may also be needed to treat priapism. Surgical options for priapism include shunting, in which a small tube is inserted into the penis to drain the blood.
How long does priapism last?
Priapism can last from a few hours to a few days. If priapism lasts longer than four hours, it is considered a medical emergency and you will be referred to the urologist.
Is priapism dangerous?
Priapism is a medical emergency that can be both painful and dangerous. If not treated immediately, priapism can lead to permanent tissue damage, erectile dysfunction and even infertility.