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Priapism, The Never-Ending Erection | Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

December 16th, 2013

Priapism, The Never-Ending Erection | Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

The Never-ending Erection

Long lasting and strong erections are what most men are looking for and if the erection quality or duration decreases, because of what reason ever, men tend to reach out for help. Alongside prescription drugs like Viagra and co. there are tons of over the counter wonder supplements and pills which claim to improve erection in men.
19729283_sWhile mostly way cheaper and accessible than prescription drugs, many of these supplements do contain byproducts that can potentially put you at risk of priapism. In fact, many of these supplements do contain undeclared byproducts which are or resemble the ingredients in the prescription drugs and their overuse may cause serious complications.


One of the common and potentially dangerous complications associated with these supplements is priapism which is a prolonged, unwanted, painful and persistent erection which isn’t caused by sexual stimulation or arousal.
Mostly common in males between ages 5 and 10 and ages 20 and 50, priapism is a medical emergency and needs immediate medical attention with prompt treatment in order to prevent tissue damage that could result in the inability to get or maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction).

Priapism Causes

priapism causes, sickle cell anemia photo

Sickle Cell Anemia

Priapism is caused by an entrapment of blood inside the penile erectile tissue. Once a man gets an erection, blood is pumped into the penile erectile bodies which results in an erection. After the elimination of the sexual stimulus or after ejaculation, the blood is drained from the penis allowing it to return back to its flaccid state. In priapism the blood cannot drain and remains inside the penis causing a prolonged, unwanted, and painful erection.
Besides due to use of “dangerous” supplements, priapism can also result from several medical conditions such as sickle cell anemia (approximately 42% of adults with sickle-cell disease will eventually develop priapism), the use and/or misuse  of medications such as Desyrel, used to treat depression, or Thorazine, used to treat certain mental illnesses. For people who have erectile dysfunction, oral or injection drugs used to treat the condition may also cause priapism.
Besides these common causes of priapism a trauma to the spinal cord or genital area, black widow spider bites, carbon monoxide poisoning, illicit drug use, such as marijuana and cocaine, or even cancer may cause the condition to arise.

Priapism Symptoms

And here are symptoms you should be looking for if you suspect suffering from this disease:

  • Unwanted erection lasting more than four hours
  • Unwanted erection off and on for several hours (stuttering priapism)
  • Rigid penile shaft, but usually soft tip of penis (glans)
  • Usually painful or tender penis

If you should experience any of the following symptoms, it’s time to see a doctor ASAP or head towards the emergency room. Once with the doctor or in the ER, treatment for priapism will be initiated with the goal to make the erection go away and preserve future erectile function.

Treatment of Priapism

Treatment may include one or all of the following:

  • Ice packs, Ice applied to the penis and perineum may reduce swelling
  • Intracavernous injection
  • Aspiration, After numbing the penis, doctors will insert a needle and drain blood from the penis to reduce pressure and swelling
  • Surgical Intervention
  • One last important step after successful treatment is a work up to find the exacerbating factor(s) and treat accordingly in order to prevent future episodes of priapism.

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