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Priapism is a painful condition in which the penis stays erect without sexual stimulation. Priapism can occur in short, repeated episodes, or it may last for days or weeks.
Priapism can be a serious problem. It can cause unbearable pain and may damage the penis, making it impossible to get a normal erection (erectile dysfunction). Erectile dysfunction is the main long-term result of priapism, and it can occur after just one episode of priapism.
Priapism can affect males of any age. Although the cause is often unknown, it can result from sickle cell disease, diabetes, leukemia, or the use of certain medicines.
Ice packs may ease the pain. Any episode of priapism that lasts for more than 3 hours requires urgent medical treatment.
Last Revised: March 1, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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