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Priapism is a rare, often painful condition involving an erection that lasts for an unusually long time—often more than four hours. This type of erection is not related to sexual stimulation. 

Immediate treatment is important to prevent tissue damage and erectile dysfunction (ED).

Priapism can
happen in:

young boys
(age 5-10)

young adults
(around age 20) 

mature men
(over age 50)

Causes of priapism
may include:

  • Sickle cell anemia or other blood disorders
  • Prescription medications to treat erectile dysfunction; antidepressants; medications to treat anxiety disorders; blood thinners; medications used to treat ADHD;  and hormones such as testosterone
  • Alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and other illicit drug use
  • Injury to the penis

You may have
priapism if you have:

  • An erection lasting more than four hours unrelated to sexual interest or stimulation

  • A rigid penile shaft, but the tip of penis is soft

  • Progressive pain in the penis

The most common type of priapism is called ischemic (or low-flow) priapism. It happens when blood is not able to leave the penis. 

Emergency room doctors treat an average of 10,000 cases of priapism each year in the United States.

If you have an erection that lasts for four or more hours, go to the emergency room for treatment. 

For more information, visit the Urology Care Foundation’s website:  |  FALL 2019  |  UROLOGYHEALTH extra