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  • Priapism is a condition in which your penis remains erect (rigid) for a long time without sexual stimulation. This happens when there are problems with the flow of blood in and around your penis. With priapism, too much blood may go into your penis, or blood may not be able to flow out. The buildup of blood in your penis causes it to become engorged (very full) and rigid. With high-flow priapism, too much blood enters your penis and drains out very slowly. With low-flow priapism, blood is not able to flow out from your penis. Stuttering priapism occurs when you have painful erections that happen over and over. The erections usually are not as painful as low-flow priapism. They can last for a few minutes to a few hours. The engorgement caused by priapism may put pressure on the tissue in your penis, causing pain and damage.
  • Some blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease or leukemia (cancer of the blood) may increase your risk of having priapism. Other conditions such as spinal cord injury, hemodialysis treatments, or getting nutrition through a tube increase your risk of getting priapism. Certain medicines, such as those used for mental health conditions or erectile dysfunction (trouble having an erection) may cause priapism. If you have been using street drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana, you have a greater risk of having priapism. Injuries to or near your penis may also cause priapism. Treatment can help your penis become soft again and prevent permanent damage to your penis. Receiving treatment quickly may decrease your risk of future problems such as erectile dysfunction (trouble having an erection).



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Having sex:

Ask your caregiver if you need to wait to have sex. You may need to avoid sex for a period of time after receiving certain types of treatment.

Preventing priapism:

While it may not be possible to prevent priapism, you may be able to reduce your risk. If you are taking medicine for erectile dysfunction, follow your caregiver's directions on how to take it. Taking this type of medicine incorrectly may cause priapism. If you have stuttering priapism, caregivers may want you to take hormone pills to help prevent priapism. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to decrease your risk of getting priapism again.

For support and more information:

You may feel embarrassed about your priapism. It is normal to feel anxious (worried) if you have priapism. Some men feel guilt, anger, and depression (sadness) with priapism. Ask your caregiver about ways to cope with this condition and the feelings that you have.


  • You have an erection that happens without sexual stimulation, is not painful, and does not go away.
  • You have symptoms of an infection, such as a fever (high body temperature).
  • You have any questions about your condition, medicines, or care.


  • You have an erection that happens without sexual stimulation, is painful, and continues for several hours.

Learn more about Priapism (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.