If you or your child has experienced a painful, persistent erection that lasted less than four hours, or multiple unwanted, persistent erections (stuttering priapism), see your primary care doctor. If the erection has lasted more than four hours, go to the emergency room.
Your doctor or the emergency room doctor may suggest that you make a follow-up appointment with a specialist in reproductive and urinary organs (urologist).
If you have time before you see your doctor, it's a good idea to prepare for questions the doctor is likely to ask.
What you can do
- Write down the symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the persistent erections.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking. And, let your doctor know if you've taken any nutritional supplements or illegal drugs.
You may also want to prepare a list of questions to ask the doctor:
- What is likely causing the persistent erections?
- What kind of tests might be needed?
- What can be done to prevent this problem in the future?
- If medication is necessary, is there a generic alternative?
- Are there activities, such as exercise or sex, that should be avoided? If so, for how long?
- Does priapism increase the risk of developing erectile dysfunction?
- Do you have brochures or can you suggest websites that explain more about priapism?
If other questions occur to you or you don't understand something, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask a number of questions regarding recurring episodes of persistent erections. Your doctor may ask:
- When did your symptoms first start?
- How long have the erections lasted?
- Were the erections painful?
- Have you had an injury to your genitals or groin?
- Did the unwanted erections occur after using a particular substance, such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine or other drugs?
- Do you take any prescription medications, including drugs for treating erectile dysfunction? Do you take any herbal or dietary supplements?
Your doctor may also order laboratory tests to determine if a disease or condition is causing priapism.
What you can do in the meantime
Don't stop your prescription medications without consulting your doctor. Don't use any recreational substance that could cause persistent erections.
June 15, 2013
- Priapism. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/print/sec17/ch226/ch226j.html. Accessed March 14, 2013.
- AUA guideline on the management of priapism. Linthicum, Md.: American Urological Association Education and Research Inc. http://www.auanet.org/content/guidelines-and-quality-care/clinical-guidelines.cfm?sub=priapism. Accessed March 14, 2013.
- Broderick GA, et al. Priapism: Pathogenesis, epidemiology, and management. Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2010;7:476.
- Burnett AL, et al. Priapism: Current principles and practice. Urology Clinics of North America. 2007;34:631.
- Deveci S. Priapism. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 14, 2013.