Priapism is a condition which is characterized by the prolonged and painful erection of penis without sexual stimulation. It is not relieved by ejaculation. It develops due to the disrupted blood supply to the penis as the blood supply is trapped and is not drained out during erection. This condition is painful and unpleasant. It may long more than 4 hours. It can happen at any age in males, but it is most common in the third decade. If it lasts more than 4 hours, it requires emergency treatment. If it is not treated in time, it can result in erectile dysfunction and permanent damage to the penis.
Can Priapism Cause Infertility?
Priapism is a urologic emergency and should be treated immediately if it remains more than 4 hours. It can cause permanent damage to the penis making the patient infertile. Due to the insufficient blood supply, the tissues inside the penis are deprived of oxygen. If the erection continues for a longer period, these tissues are damaged or destroyed. Thus, the tissues of the penis get scarred and fibrosed. This can cause permanent damage to the penis. It can result in erectile dysfunction and may affect the sexual life of the patient. One can become permanently infertile because of priapism.
Priapism is a medical condition of the male reproductive system, which is marked by the prolonged and painful erection of the penis. The erection takes place without sexual stimulation and is not relieved by ejaculation. The condition develops by itself and is not related to sexual activity. It settles down by itself in two hours. It can last more than four hours.
- Priapism can develop at any age in males usually in the age between 5-10 years or 20-50 years. It can also develop in newborns.
- Priapism is caused by disrupted blood flow in the penis. The blood gets trapped in the erection chambers of the penis and is not able to drain out.
- The penis becomes more painful with the time. Pain is felt most at the tip of the penis. The person feels uncomfortable and unpleasant due to prolonged erection.
Causes of Priapism
An erection happens as a result of physical or psychological stimulation in a normal situation. This stimulation leads to contraction and relaxation of smooth muscles and blood vessels of penis accelerating the flow of blood to them. With the flow of blood, erection of penis happens. The blood flow to the penis is disturbed after erection in priapism. This may happen due to following causes-
- 40 % of males with sickle cell anemia are reported to suffer from priapism.
- Leukemia and Hematologic conditions like thalassemia, multiple myeloma, etc. affect the blood supply to the penis.
- Some medications like antidepressants, antipsychotic or anxiety medicines, and blood thinners like warfarin or heparin and injectable prostaglandins can lead to priapism as their side effects.
- Some drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy can induce priapism in males.
- Alcohol abuse can also cause priapism.
- An injury to penis, pelvis or perineum can trigger priapism.
- The toxin released by a spider bite, scorpion sting or other reasons can induce priapism.
- Metabolic diseases like gout or amyloidosis can cause this condition.
- Cancers of the penis are also known to trigger priapism.
- Neurogenic diseases caused by injuries to spinal cord or syphilis can disrupt the blood flow to the penis.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning reduces the flow of blood to the penis.
- Dialysis affects the blood supply to the penis, resulting in priapism.
Priapism is a condition of the male reproductive system in which the penis remains erect for a long time without sexual arousing and is not relieved by the ejaculation of semen. It needs immediate medical intervention if it longs for more than 4 hours. It can lead to scarring of the tissues of the penis and permanent erectile dysfunction thereby resulting in infertility.