A never-ending erection that lasts for hours may seem like a dream come true for some men; unfortunately, this is a phenomenon that can be a sign of a serious problem. Known as priapism, this is a condition where a man’s penis stands strong at attention for up to 6 hours or more in the absence of physical or psychological stimulation. If that still doesn’t sound too bad, guys should keep reading to discover the risks and long-term effects.
Priapism is a painful penis condition which, if left untreated, can actually damage the delicate penis tissue, causing longstanding and even permanent issues. While it is rare for a man to encounter this unpleasant disorder, it is an emergency situation that requires medical care; therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so treatment is obtained when needed. Being aware of sexual health issues such as priapism, in addition to maintaining proper penis care, are important steps to maintaining a healthy, satisfying sex life.
What causes priapism?
Priapism is simply a fancy medical term for an erection that won’t quit – a perky penis that lasts 4 to 6 hours or more without stimulation warrants a trip to the ER. There are two types of priapism: low-flow and high-flow. Low-flow priapism occurs when blood is trapped in the internal chambers of an erect penis. There is no known cause, but it may be more common in men with sickle-cell anemia, leukemia, or malaria. High-flow priapism is the more rare type, a less-painful cousin to the low-flow variety. It occurs when an artery in the penis or perineum (space between the scrotum and anus) ruptures, blocking blood flow from draining out of the penis.
Medications can also cause the disorder; certain anti-depressants have been linked to the condition. Ironically, oral and injection drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction can also cause priapism (problem solved!). Other causes include: spinal cord trauma, genital injury, black widow spider bites, carbon monoxide poisoning, and use of illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. Priapism is also a rare side effect of some cancers that affect the penis by preventing the outflow of blood.
How is priapism treated?
Priapism must be treated quickly in order to prevent long-term damage to the penis. The longer treatment is avoided, the higher the risk of permanent damage. Men should not attempt to treat priapism at home; a doctor is better able to determine the etiology of the condition making treatment more effective, and safe. If the erection does not go away on its own, a doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:
- Ice packs: This may reduce swelling of the penis and perineum and allow the blood to drain from the penis.
- Aspiration: Blood is removed from a numbed penis via a needle, this drains some of the blood allowing the pressure and swelling to go down and restore normal blood flow.
- Surgical ligation: In the case of a serious injury or artery rupture, a surgeon will tie off the artery that ruptured, allowing normal blood flow to return.
- Intracavernous injection: This treatment is especially for low-flow priapism; drugs which cause the veins to narrow are injected into the penis. This reduces blood flow and swelling and restores homeostasis of the area.
- Surgical shunt: Used in the treatment of low-flow priapism, a shunt is inserted into the penis to divert blood flow and restore normal circulation.
Maintaining a healthy penis
While the incidence of priapism is – literally – out of one’s own hands, particularly when an underlying circulation or health issue is at play, there are ways to maintain a healthy penis. Striving for overall physical health by eating right, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and seeking regular check-ups from a doctor keeps the body and member healthy and functioning. Additionally, using a high-quality penis health creme (most health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) can keep the skin of the penis supple and moisturized. A vitamin packed formula also improves circulation and sensitivity and may enhance the overall sexual experience.
For additional information on most common penis health issues, tips on improving penis sensitivity, and what to do to maintain a healthy penis, visit: http://www.penishealth101.com. John Dugan is a professional writer who specializes in men’s health issues and is an ongoing contributing writer to numerous online web sites.