What Is Priapism?
Priapism is a prolonged and painful erection of the penis. The condition causes blood in the penis to become trapped and unable to drain through the penile arteries. Priapism is particularly a severe condition because of the risk of permanent tissue damage. Let`s discuss the types, symptoms, causes, and treatment options for priapism.
Types of Priapism
This is also known as low-flow priapism, and it is the inability of blood to leave the penis after an erection. Most priapism patients suffer ischemic priapism.
Non-ischemic priapism is also known as high-flow priapism, and it is the type that is caused by poorly regulated blood flow in the penis.
Recurrent priapism is also called stuttering priapism and is common among men with sickle cell anemia.
Symptoms of Priapism
The primary symptom of priapism is a prolonged erection. Other symptoms depend on the type of priapism that a patient suffers. The common symptoms of ischemic priapism are penile pain that gets worse with time, and an erection in which the tip of the penis remains soft. Non-ischemic priapism is usually painless and causes an erection that is not fully rigid.
6 Common Causes of Priapism
Some medications can affect nerves, including those in the penis. These nerves widen the arteries that supply the penis, causing it to become engorged and erect.
There are drugs such as meth, marijuana, and cocaine that cause priapism.
Priapism can occur due to cancerous growths, especially if they impede on the penile artery or nerve supply and cause blockages.
Though rare, there are some blood conditions that can cause priapism. Chronic leukemia, thalassemia, and multiple myeloma are the most common blood conditions that have been linked to priapism.
Damage to the penile artery can happen as a result of an injury to the penis or perineum. This could prevent blood from circulating or draining, causing non-ischemic priapism.
Sickle Cell Anemia
Abnormally-shaped red blood cells can cause blockage of the penile artery, and as a result, cause priapism. Studies show that approximately 40 percent of adults with sickle-cell anemia will develop priapism.
How to Diagnose Priapism
To diagnose priapism, doctors would usually start with a detailed medical history and physical examination. The doctor will specifically need to examine the genitals and groin to determine the pattern of rigidity and whether any trauma has occurred. The test to ascertain that this condition exists may entail:
- taking a small sample of blood from the penis
- if the blood is black, it indicates ischemic priapism
- if the blood is bright red, it is probably non-ischemic priapism
A doctor may also ask for blood tests, ultrasounds, and urine toxicology. Not only do these tests ascertain the presence of priapism, but they also tell the cause of the condition.
Complications of Priapism
Anyone who has had an erection for four hours or more should seek immediate emergency care. The blood trapped in the penis does not have oxygen, meaning that the penile tissue is deprived of oxygen and can get damaged. If the patient does not get immediate treatment, they may suffer permanent nerve damage and erectile dysfunction.
They may also be at risk of tissue damage four to six hours after onset. Unfortunately, any damage to the sensitive penile tissue is permanent and cannot be reversed.
How to Treat Priapism
If the erection has lasted between 4-6 hours, a doctor may prescribe medications.
The type and cause of priapism will determine the treatment.
If the penis has been erect for fewer than four hours, the doctor may prescribe decongestant medications to decrease blood flow to the penis so that the erection can reduce. If the erection has lasted for four to six hours, medication is usually effective.
After six hours, other measures may be required, especially if medication is unsuccessful. Such measures include:
Applying to the penis or perineum can reduce swelling and non-ischemic priapism.
The doctor will need to make the penis numb with medicine, and insert a needle to drain the accumulated blood. This procedure usually results in quick relief of pain and swelling.
If ice packs and aspiration are unsuccessful, they may need to do surgery to restore normal blood flow to the penis. There are also options for inserting a shunt or extra passageway to help drain excess blood and restore circulation, particularly for ischemic priapism. If an artery is damaged or ruptured during surgery, a surgeon can ligate or tie it to reduce blood flow. This is particularly effective for non-ischemic priapism.
Now that you Know…
Immediate treatment is highly important for people who suffer from priapism. Delaying treatment puts people at risk of permanent damage to the penis.
Some Interesting Penis and Priapism Facts
- Uncircumcised penises are more susceptible to STIs and balanitis.
- Circumcised penises are more likely to get irritated or chafed, so you`re advised to always wear loose-fitting, cotton underwear.
- The main symptom is a prolonged erection unrelated to sexual activity or interest.
- Medications such as erectile dysfunction drugs, antidepressants, blood thinners, and some blood pressure drugs can cause priapism.
- Frequent sex has various health benefits and can boost your sex drive, however, there’s no evidence that chastity can damage the penis.
- Clear urine could mean you’re overhydrated, yellow to amber urine is usually normal, while orange or brown urine could mean you’re dehydrated.
- Bloody, cloudy, green, or blue urine could be signs of an infection or a health condition.
- Frequent urination could be a sign of interstitial cystitis, urinary tract infection (UTI), or diabetes. Getting immediate medical attention is key to avoid complications.
- Perceived ejaculate volume reduction (PEVR) causes a reduction in the volume of semen ejaculated.
- PEVR can be a result of diabetes, depression, side effects of some medications, and certain testicular conditions.
- Tomatoes and carrots can increase sperm count and motility.
- There`s no scientific information to prove that being a grower or a shower is better or healthier. Each has its peculiarities, and are totally normal
- The groin might naturally smell a little like sweat, as it’s common to sweat in that area.
- You can stop the smell in the groin by washing it thoroughly every day.
- If the smell in the groin is really bad and consistent, it may be an indicator of a condition such as balanitis, gonorrhea, UTI, yeast infection, or chlamydia.
- Many STIs are asymptomatic, and as a result, you may not have any noticeable symptoms.
- You are advised that you and every new partner get tested before having sex.
- The three main types of priapism are ischemic, recurrent, and non-ischemic.
- Males of all ages, from birth upwards, can suffer priapism.
- Ithyphallophobia is the fear of seeing, having, or even thinking about an erection.
- Upper Paleolithic art as far back as 30,000 years ago depicts people using dildos for sexual pleasure.
- Research shows that sex cures headaches.
- People who have sex thrice a week are likely to look five years younger than those who don`t.
- There are studies that claim that people who masturbate often are less likely to suffer from diabetes and insomnia.
- It`s only a myth that masturbation causes cancer, blindness, and hairy palms.
Some studies claim that married people are more likely to masturbate than singles.