What treatments are there?
Treatments for priapism depend on which type you have.
If you experience a persistent and painful erection after sustaining an injury to your genital area, you should go straight to your local hospital’s Accident and Emergency department for treatment. Leaving it untreated could lead to erectile problems in the future.
Non-ischaemic (high blood flow) priapism may get better on its own after a few hours and usually doesn’t require treatment. However you should still go and seek immediate medical attention.
Ischaemic (low flow) priapism, or recurrent (stuttering) priapism can be treated with aspiration. This means that the penis is numbed with a local anaesthetic and then a needle and syringe is used to drain (aspirate) the blood from the penis that is causing the erection. This may take one treatment but possibly more if the erection does not subside.
Sympathomimetic injections are the next line of treatment. This medication (the one usually used is called phenylephrine) works by squeezing the blood vessels in the penis to help them to get the blood out and prevent more blood from getting into the penis. Dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, and/or a rapid or irregular heartbeat can be a side effect of this medicine.
If the symptoms of priapism don’t respond to the above treatments, surgery which creates a new route for the blood to flow out of the penis (known as shunt surgery) may be needed. Surgery is only recommended if other treatments have failed.
Treatment for recurrent (stuttering) priapism includes prescription medicines which lower the levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in your blood, which makes it less likely that you will get an erection. These types of drugs can have side effects and should only be taken by men over the age of 18.