Can Females Get Priapism?

The main cause of prolonged erections by priapism is not sexual stimulation, but a blood circulation problem that causes the blood to become blocked in the penis. But this long and painful erection can also affect women, although with a lower incidence, in what is called priapism of the clitoris.

In general terms it is an uncommon condition, it is frequent in certain groups of patients with other underlying diseases. It can also appear as a side effect of medications and drug abuse, such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and other substances.

Can Females Get Priapism?

Can Females Get Priapism?

Priapism of the clitoris is a rare condition that is not usually mentioned in the medical literature; however, it is a phenomenon similar to that affecting the penis.

It is a phenomenon similar to the one that affects the penis, and also results from the inability of the blood to flow normally through the erectile tissues, which generates a swelling and inflammation of the clitoris that tends to be quite painful.

However, unlike ischemic priapism, priapism of the clitoris is not considered a dangerous medical emergency because the risk of blood clots is less, since in that genital area there is more blood entering and leaving.

Priapism of the clitoris is often associated with the use of medications that block adrenergic receptors and inhibit the reuptake of serotonin, as is the case with some antidepressant drugs. Despite this, women who suffer from it do need medical help to relieve pain.

The word “clitoris” derives from the Greek “kleitoris, k’eitoridos that like the expression “kleíoo” means to close, while the term “kleís” express: key or bolt. For some, this Greek expression denotes “little hill.”

The clitoris is a female erectile organ that corresponds to the cavernous bodies of the penis of a man, who is considered its counterpart. It appears as a submucosal overhang, above the vestibule, in close proximity to the symphysis pubis. It is located at the anterior end of the labia minora and the vestibule. The organ is constituted by the roots of the clitoris, sharp structures in the shape of a cone. The roots converge towards each other and form in front of the lower extremity of the symphysis a cylindrical structure that is the body of the clitoris. This follows the direction of its roots, but a little before the symphysis describes an acute angle, the elbow or knee of the clitoris; then it goes down and back ending in a free, dilated limb of a blunt vertex that is the clitoral glans.

It involves, then, a deeply hidden portion under the labia majora, in close relation to the skeleton and a free one, formed by the elbow, body and glans, covered by a cutaneous cuff, the cap or foreskin of the clitoris that covers the glans without fixing it and delimits the preputial cavity. The roots and body of the clitoris are constituted by erectile tissue surrounded by a fibroelastic covering, the aponeurosis or clitoral fascia or albuginea.

The glans, in which the cavernous bodies converge, is formed by a central core of conjunctive nature, covered by a dermopapillary mucosa; differs well from the cavernous bodies belonging to the erectile system and penile glans, equally erectile, to be provided with cavernous bodies.

Because there are many nerve endings in the clitoris region, it is presumed to be involved in sexual pleasure and female orgasm.

The clitoris as a whole in the adult woman possesses a length of about 2.5 cm. Others estimate that its length, like its transverse diameter is greater and has been found in the prepubertal period in 3 cm.


Priapism of the clitoris is rare. It is presented as a swelling of the organ, local irritation and intense pain. The use of erectogenic drugs to induce sexual desire or orgasms, blood dyscrasias, pelvic tumors, venous and lymphatic obstructions of the pelvis and after radical surgery of the urinary bladder have been proposed as etiological causes.

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