#HLWDK Daily Health Tips: Priapism

  • Q: You once helped me regarding my son’s issue when he was born. Now I am in-boxing you with my own issue. I am in my early 30s, and have incredibly strong erections almost every day to a point where my penis becomes a bit uncomfortable. They last almost 2 to 4 hours, it has been happening since the last time I tried to have sex, about 2 months ago. I no longer know if I am horny or they are just happening on their own… Many men out there are desperate for erections because of Erectile Dysfunction etc, and right now, I am desperate to stop these erections because they are getting to me. Well, I can say I am not sexually active, because I hardly have sex. Sometimes I think if I can have sexual intercourse always this will stop. Now I do not know what to think of it. I just want to be able to control my erections. I can’t even masturbate because I waste my energy when I do as I don’t reach the end. Dr. Ketch, tell me, is there a way I can stop these erections? My testosterone hormones are killing me. I become moody sometimes. Thank You. I will be looking out for the response on your page.


    A: Hello dear. Thanks for writing in.


    You will definitely need to see your doctor for proper evaluation and diagnosis, but it does sound like this is priapism. This condition, in which there is a sustained and oftentimes, painful erection of the penis, continues for hours beyond sexual stimulation (I suspect that ‘magun’ falls into this category 😀 I couldn’t resist that. Only Nigerians and Yorubas, specifically will get this joke!) or even when there is no sexual stimulation as described in your case. It is more common in men in their 30s.


    There are three types of priapism (ischaemic, non-ischaemic and recurrent) but to understand this, we’ll take a look at the mechanism of erection. An erection occurs in response to stimulation, physical or psychological. As a result of this stimulation, the blood vessels and smooth muscles of the penis relax, allowing increased blood flow to the penis. This is what causes erection. When the stimulation is over, the vessels and smooth muscles constrict causing the blood to flow out of the penis and become flaccid. In priapism, the order of events causing the blood to flow out of the penis is changed such that the


    In ischaemic priapism which is the more common type due to inability of blood to leave the penis, there is pain, rigid penile shaft but flaccid glans (penile tip) and the erection lasts more than 4 hours! Causes include blood disorders like sickle cell anaemia and injuries to the penis and/or pelvis, alcohol, cocaine and other illicit drug use, some medications like blood thinners and antidepressants, cancer of the penis etc.


    Non-ischaemic priapism is usually due to an injury to the perineum or genitals that results in poor regulation of penile blood flow. It is not usually painful and manifests as erection that lasts for more than 4 hours but the penile shaft is not fully rigid.


    In recurrent priapism, situation is similar to ischaemic priapism with erections that are painful, recurrent but ease after 2 to 3 hours. These erections may subsequently progress to become more frequent and more prolonged. It is common in males with sickle cell anaemia



    Any sort of priapism should be checked out with a medical doctor (urologist) to determine type, cause and management. Erection lasting more than 4 hours is an emergency and may led to damage of the penis and subsequent erectile dysfunction


    Treatment depends on cause and should be started as soon as possible.

    Options include aspiration (in which blood is drained out of the penis with a syringe), use of medications to constrict the penile blood vessels, treatment of underlying medical condition like sickle cell anaemia and surgery in some cases. Note of warning, though it sounds very simple to use a syringe to drain out the blood in the penis, you must never attempt it on your own. You must visit a hospital and let a doctor work out the best treatment option(s) for you.

    So, I suggest you see your doctor asap to get a proper evaluation and start on your journey to recovery.

    All the best!

    Have a great weekend y’all 😀


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