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Priapism information



Priapism information
Priapism is a persistent and usually painful erection that lasts for several hours.
Priapism is not necessarily related to sexual stimulation or desire, and it does not subside after ejaculation (when semen is released from the penis).
The most common cause of priapism is when blood cannot leave the penis.
Priapism commonly arises as:
a complication of sickle cell anaemia (a genetic blood disorder where the red blood cells develop abnormally)
a side-effect of medications such as sildenafil (sold under the brand name Viagra) that are used to treat men who have difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
Priapism should be regarded as a medical emergency. If treatment is not started within 24 hours, the penis may be permanently damaged, which may affect the ability to get an erection in the future.
How common is priapism?

Priapism is rare in the general population but relatively common in certain high-risk groups, i.e. boys or men with sickle cell anaemia, and men who are taking medication to treat erectile dysfunction.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 children with sickle cell anaemia and 9 out of 10 adults with sickle cell anaemia will experience at least one episode of priapism.
The risk of priapism as a side effect of treatment for erectile dysfunction is thought to be low at around 1 in a 1,000.
Outlook

The outlook for priapism that is treated promptly is good. There are a number of treatment options, such as medication or draining blood out of the penis, which can often manage symptoms successfully.

However, the longer that treatment for priapism is delayed, the worse the outcome usually is, and the greater a person’s chance of developing erectile dysfunction.