Painful erections (also referred to as priapism) refer to the prolonged erection of male penis for an extended period of time (sometimes up to a few hours) with or without sexual stimulation. It usually affects males in their 30s. Painful and prolonged erections if not treated in a timely fashion can damage your penis permanently.
What are some classic symptoms of Painful Erections?
The symptoms of Priapism may vary. There are two clinical types of Priapism:
- Ischemic Priapism
- Nonischemic Priapism
Ischemic Priapism is a low flow Priapism in which blood vessels gets weak and impedes the flow of blood to and from penis. It is a more common type of Priapism. Sign and symptoms includes
- Erection that lasts more than four hours without stimulation.
- The penile shaft is rigid but the tip remains soft.
- Pain in penis
The ischemic Priapism might become a recurrent condition. It is more common in sickle cell anemia patients. This disease obstructs the blood vessel in the penis. In the beginning the unwanted erection occur for shorter durations (up to a few minutes) but with time, the condition may worsen and painful erections may occur more frequently and for long durations.
Also referred to as high flow Priapism, is a condition in which blood flow is not regulated properly. The sign and symptoms are same as ischemic Priapism except that the erection is not painful.
What are some primary causes of painful erection?
Under normal circumstances, erection in males occur as a result of sexual stimulation. Due to sexual stimulation some blood vessels and smooth muscle relaxes and contract; thereby resulting in increased blood flow towards the penis. This increased blood flow causes the penis to erect. When stimulation ends, blood flow reduces and penis comes back to its normal, pre-erection state.
Priapism or painful erection occurs when any problem arises with the blood flow or drainage of blood from the penis. This type of erection may not solely be a result of sexual stimulation and may last for hours. There are several disorders that can lead to painful erections.
Changes in the curvature of penis along with thickening or sclerosis of corpora cavernosa of penis is referred to as Peyronie’s disease – a common cause of painful erection in males. The pathophysiology revolves around ongoing tissue inflammation and formation of scar tissue.
Some blood relation conditions that can lead to painful erections are:
- Sickle cell anemia
- Other blood dyscrasias like thalassemia, multiple myeloma etc.
More than 42 percent of the adults who are suffering from sickle cell anemia may experience painful erections at least once in their lifetime.
It is also a side effect of several prescription medications and drugs like alcohol, marijuana etc. This includes:
- Medications for erectile dysfunction that are injected directly into your penis like Papaverine, Alprostadil etc.
- Some antidepressants like Prozac, Bupropion etc.
- Alpha blockers including Prazosin, Tamsulosin Doxazosin.
- Blood thinners like Warfarin and heparin.
- Antipsychotics like Hydroxyzine.
- Certain hormones like Testosterone or Gonadotropin.
- Medicines for hyperactivity disorders like Atomoxetine.
Alcohol and use of drugs:
Use of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs can also cause prolonged painful erections
An injury to penis region:
Any injury or trauma to your penis, pelvis and region between penis and anus can also lead to painful erections.
Some other factors:
Some other causes include:
- Spider bite
- An active infection
- Metabolic disorders like gout.
- Neurogenic disorders like spinal cord injury
- Cancer related to penis.
Painful erections are easily manageable if treated in a timely fashion. If you feel the symptoms and a prolonged erection you should seek medical assistance immediately. If it remains untreated it may cause permanent damage to your penis. If you or your partner are interested in Penile Enlargement Surgery, consider contacting Dr. Elist to learn more about it.