Priapism refers to the sexual malfunction that is characterized by persistent erection that is generally painful. In men affected with this disorder, the erection continues for about five hours and occurs without any sort of sexual stimulation. Priapism is caused when the blood flow to the penis gets trapped without being drained.
It is extremely important that immediate medical aid is provided to a person suffering from this disorder. The goal of all treatment is to do away with the erection immediately. If left untreated, erectile dysfunction and thereby infertility is likely. It is always advisable not to make any attempt to self-treat this disorder.
Men of all age groups are likely to develop this disorder. However, it is found to be more common among boys between the age group of five and ten. Men between the age group of twenty and fifty are also found to be easily affected by priapism. Sickle-cell disease is found to be associated with this disorder. It has been estimated that forty two percent of all adults with sickle cell disease are likely to develop priapism gradually.
There are two types of priapism namely low-flow and high-flow. Low-flow priapism is caused as a result of the blood being trapped within the erection chambers. It often occurs without any obvious reason in otherwise healthy men.
High flow priapism is found to be rarer than low-flow type. High-flow priapism is generally less painful as well. A ruptured artery that supplies blood to the penis or the perineum causes this disorder. External or internal injuries can prevent the flow of blood in the penis from circulating normally.
Some of the commonly found causes of priapism include trauma to the spinal cord or injury to the genital area, black widow spider bites, carbon monoxide poisoning and use of illicit drugs. Rarely, priapism is found to be the consequence of certain types of cancers especially those which affect the penis.