Priapism Definition, Causes and Treatments

Dec 24, 2014 0 Comments in Erectile Dysfunction by
Priapism Definition, Causes and Treatments

Priapism Definition, Causes and Treatments

Priapism is a condition in which the penis remains erect for a prolonged period without sexual stimulation. A persistent, painful condition, priapism is not related to sexual arousal/ stimulation. In some cases, priapism may cause penile infection, impotence, or sexual dysfunction. Priapism occurs when there is obstruction in the blood flow to or blood drainage from the penis.

Priapism Causes

Priapism | Erectile Dysfunction

Priapism may be caused due to medical reasons, injury or trauma to the penis or some medications.

Medical Conditions

Blood-related disorders are the most common cause of priapism, particularly ischemic priapism. As a result, blood cannot flow out of the penis. The most common blood disease that causes priapism is sickle cell anemia – an inherited disorder in which the person has abnormally shaped red blood cells that block the blood flow. The other conditions include: Leukemia, Sickle cell disease, Cancer, Malignant tumor, Trauma, Spinal cord injuries, Trauma to the pelvis or penis or perineum, Use of illicit drugs and Drinking too much alcohol.


Causes may also include prescription drug side effects:

1. Oral medications for erectile dysfunction, including Viagra, Levitra, Cialis

2. Erectile dysfunction drugs injected directly into the penis, including papaverine

3. Blood thinners, including heparin, warfarin

4. Antidepressants, such as fluoxetine and bupropion

5. Drugs for psychotic disorders, including olanzapine, risperidone

Priapism Classification

male sexual organ imageIn simple words, priapism occurs when some part of the blood vessels or nerves is affected to the extent that there is an alteration in the normal blood flow to the penis. As a result, blood is trapped in the erectile chambers, resulting in an unwanted erection. Low-flow priapism is more common and painful than high-flow priapism.

Ischemic Priapism:Blood is unable to flow out of the penis, resulting in unwanted erection for more than three hours. Consult your doctor if this painful event lasts for over 4 hours.

Non-Ischemic Priapism:This is a less common condition that involves surplus blood flow to the penis. Compared to ischemic priapism, erection is painless and less rigid.

Suttering Priapism:The erection may occur repeatedly, but is temporary in nature.

Priapism Diagnosis

The doctor will conduct a physical exam of your genitalia and ask you a few questions about your medical history. This doctor may also check your rectum and abdomen to detect any abnormalities or unusual physical growth, such as malignant tumors. They may order some other tests to confirm the diagnosis, including

– Blood tests to measure white and red blood cells and platelet count in order to diagnose priapism causes.

– Measurement of blood gas by taking blood from the penis using a needle to determine the oxygen content in order to diagnose the type of priapism.

Priapism Treatment

Depending on your condition, the doctor may prescribe medications to constrict blood vessels that are responsible for the blood flow to the penis.

– Aspiration: The doctor inserts a needle and syringe into the penis to drain blood.

– Surgery: In severe conditions, you may require a surgical procedure to redirect blood.

For less severe conditions may involve use ice to the area around genitals.