The main symptom of priapism is a long-lasting (more than 4 hours) painful erection.
Types of priapism
There are 3 types of priapism. These are ischaemic (low-flow priapism), non-ischaemic (high-flow priapism) and recurrent (priapism keeps coming back).
Ischemic priapism happens because of blood being trapped in the erection chambers. It usually happens without a known cause in men who are otherwise fit and healthy. However, it can affect men with sickle cell disease and leukaemia.
Nonischemic priapism is rarer and is not normally painful. This happens because of a ruptured artery from an injury to the perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum) or the penis. This stops blood in the penis from circulating normally. It can also happen due to nerve damage.
Recurrent priapism is when the condition occurs regularly or repeatedly.
Is priapism dangerous?
Yes. While some forms of priapism can go away on their own, if you delay treatment, there is a risk of permanent damage and scarring to your penis.
It’s also important to see a doctor if you suffer with priapism to check for any underlying, serious causes for this that might need urgent treatment.
What complications can priapism cause?
Ischemic priapism in particular can cause serious complications. When oxygen cannot get to the blood trapped in the penis, this can begin to destroy or damage issues in the penis. If you do not get priapism treated, this can lead to erectile dysfunction.
How does priapism affect sex?
Priapism is a prolonged erection that is not associated with sexual stimulation and cannot be relieved by ejaculation.
What if I don’t get my priapism treated?
If you do not get your priapism treated, this can lead to permanent erectile dysfunction and scarring.