Understanding Priapism

Priapism is a condition wherein the penis goes through a painful and persistent state of erection even in the absence of physical and psychological stimulation.

In a normal state, an erection takes place when the penis fills up with blood and usually subsides after orgasm as the blood then leaves the penis and returns to its flaccid state. But in the case of priapism, the blood fails to drain from the penis after orgasm and is sustained, usually to painful consequences.

Causes of priapism

The primary cause of priapism is due to a malfunction in the blood vessels and the nerves in the penis. The blood seems to stay trapped and not drained properly from the tissues in the penis even after orgasm.

Other causes which may add to or worsen the condition is misuse of medications especially the ones that aim to manage erectile dysfunction.

Some drugs such as antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications may also cause priapism. Blood thinners and other blood pressure lowering drugs may also sometimes cause the condition.

Symptoms of priapism

Symptoms of priapism include sustained erections that can last from four to six hours. This erection is not usually associated with sexual stimulation or desire and can continue on even after an orgasm. The erection can become painful over time.

How priapism is diagnosed?

Diagnosis of the condition includes a check up and evaluation of a person’s medical history as well as a physical examination to help eliminate other cause of the problem.

There can also be other tests that can be conducted to further help the diagnosis. This includes blood tests as well as an ultrasound scan.

How to prevent priapism?

One way of preventing bouts of priapism would be avoiding certain medications known to trigger them. There are also other triggering factors such as certain drugs or alcohol may also help in preventing priapic

How to treat priapism?

For those with priapic, professional medical attention might be necessary. Treatment, especially for ischemic priapic is considered an emergency situation and may require immediate treatment.

 Treatment can range from injections to narrow or constrict blood vessels to aspiration or draining of the blood in the penis as well as surgery for certain cases.


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