What is priapism?

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What is priapism? in directory a to z of environment health

Priapism is a very rare disease. And it is a sustained and sometimes painful erection that occurs without sexual
stimulation. The priapism word comes from the latin “Priapus” which was the name of a male God and fertile in classical mythology.

What causes it?

Priapism is given by some disorders in the spinal cord. By leukemia or inflammation of the urethra.

The specific causes of priapism in sickle cell anemia patients are unknown. Acute attacks often start while the person is sleeping or after sexual activity, although frequently often cannot be identified an event or cause.


Priapism is characterized by presenting a firm erection but with the flaccid Glans. The penis begins to fill with blood as in a normal erection, but blood does not come out outside and erection does not disappear after a stimulus or sexual activity, unlike what happens in a normal erection.


This is unmistakable, since there is no sexual activity.


When an erection is painful and does not go away, early treatment is needed to preserve the capacity of the penis.

Priapism may occur in one of the following ways: repeated but reversible painful erections may occur over a period of several hours (erection-disappears-erection-appears, etc.) This is also called “antisistema.” priapism This type of priapism has no impact on sexuality. This type of priapism repeated episodes are common and occur in up to 40% of patients. Treatment can be carried out at home and consists of warm water baths, increase fluid intake and emptying the bladder (urinate) frequently. If the episode does not improve within 3 hours, requires specialized handling. Analgesics are recommended in case of pain.

There may be a prolonged painful erection that does not go away for more than several hours. This can continue for several days or weeks. This type of priapism needs medical attention. Without medical treatment priapism can cause partial or complete erectile dysfunction at more than 80% of cases. Sometimes blood transfusions are given during the attack.

Aggrandizement or persistent hardening of the penis, which can last for weeks or even years. This type of priapism usually does not cause pain. It commonly occurs after a long episode of priapism. Sexual function often is affected (by erectile ejemplo-disfuncion).


Currently there is no method pair to prevent attacks of priapism and therefore neither can determine who will develop erectile dysfunction. Patients with repeated attacks are advised to avoid prolonged distension of the bladder (avoid being long time without urination), dehydration and very prolonged sexual activity.

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