What is priapism?

Priapism is a condition of persistent, usually painful erection that lasts more than 4 hours.

It is characteristic of the condition that the erection is not the result of sexual stimulation. The condition develops when blood becomes “stuck” in the penis and cannot drain.

If the condition is not treated immediately, due to impaired blood circulation, it can worsen and become the cause of permanent erectile dysfunction and subsequent impotence. In more severe cases, prolonged ischemia can cause gangrene.

Priapism can develop in all men regardless of age, even in newborns.

There are two types of priapism:

  • First type – it occurs as a result of “stuck” blood in the cavernous bodies of the penis. This in most cases develops for no reason in men who have no health problems. But a connection has also been established between prolonged erection and certain diseases such as leukemia, malaria or sickle cell anemia.
  • Second type – it develops less often and the penis is not so painful. It results from the rupture of an artery in an injury to the penis or the perineum – the area between the scrotum and the anus, which prevents normal blood circulation in the penis.

What causes it?

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  • Sickle cell anemia – it is estimated that approximately 42% of men who suffer from this disease will eventually develop priapism.
  • Medications – a common cause of the disease is the use or abuse of some medicines. Medicines that can cause a prolonged erection are:
  • Tradosone hydrochloride, which is used as an antidepressant and hypnotic;
  • Chlorpromazine, which is classified as an antipsychotic medication;
  • Some drugs that are used to treat erectile dysfunction and are taken orally or injected are also potential causes of prolonged erection.

    In this case, the active ingredients of these medications, especially papaverine and alprostadil, are the causes of the condition.

    Other possible causes are:

    • Spinal cord or genital trauma;
    • Black widow spider bite;
    • Carbon monoxide poisoning;
    • Usage of marijuana or cocaine;
    • In rare cases, priapism can has also been linked to certain cancers that block the flow of blood from the corpora cavernosa of the penis;

    Treatment for priapism

    If you notice that you have unexplained erection abnormally prolonged erection, do not hesitate and do not attempt to treat yourself. Go to the nearest emergency medical center immediately.

    The aim of the treatment is to return the erect penis to its usual non-excited state. Treatment options are:

    • Ice: The first step in treating priapism may be the application of cold compresses with ice. Cold helps constrict the blood vessels in the penile area and can help restore normal blood supply.
    • Surgical ligation: In cases where priapism is due to a ruptured artery in penis, surgical ligation may be necessary. This procedural method is used to stop bleeding and restore normal blood flow.
    • Intracavernous drug injection: In the first type of priapism, an injection of drugs known as alpha antagonists is administered. , directly into the penile tissues. These medications help narrow the veins and reduce blood flow to the penis, returning it to its usual non-excited state. Oral forms of alpha antagonists can also be used, but their action is usually slower.
    • Aspiration: In this method, doctors perform aspiration, which means that after local anesthesia , a needle is inserted into the penis, which drains the accumulated blood from the tissues. This process aims to reduce tension in the penis and restore normal blood flow.

    The team at the emergency medical center has experience and training in the effective management of priapism, so it is essential importance of seeking professional help and not attempting to self-medicate.

    Inappropriate measures or delay in treatment can lead to serious complications, such as damage to penile tissues and even impotence.

    Therefore, with symptoms of priapism, immediately consult medical professionals who can provide the necessary help and treatment.

    How can we protect ourselves?

    Protection is essential to maintaining our health and well-being. Here are some key ways we can protect ourselves:

    • Personal hygiene: Regular hand washing with soap and warm water is an essential means of preventing the spread of infection and disease. Also, keeping your body and teeth clean is important to prevent many health problems.
    • Physical activity and a healthy lifestyle: Regular physical activity strengthens the immune system and reduces risk from many diseases. A healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet and avoiding nicotine, alcohol and drugs, is also essential.
    • Social Distancing: During epidemics and pandemics, social distancing can help limit the spread of infections. Keeping the recommended distances and wearing a mask can keep you and others safe.

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