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Priapism is a medical emergency causing painful erection which lasts for more than four hours without any physical or psychological stimulation.

Sometimes causes are unknown. In other cases, they may include:

  • Sickle cell disease
  • Leukemia
  • Pelvic tumors
  • Injury to the spinal cord
  • Injury to the genitals
  • Certain medications
  • Penile injections for erectile dysfunction
  • Recreational drugs


  • Erection that lasts for more than four hours
  • Pain

Treatment should be provided at the earliest for best results. It may include:

  • Decongestant medication to decrease blood flow
  • Intracavernous injections to constrict the veins carrying blood to penis
  • Aspiration to drain the blood from penis
  • Inserting shunt to improve blood circulation
  • Ligation or tying of the ruptured artery

Priapism may not be preventable always but following may reduce the risk:

  • Avoiding medication that may trigger priapism
  • Avoiding recreational drugs