Preparing for your appointment

If you have an erection lasting more than four hours, you need emergency care. If you experience recurrent, persistent, partial erections that resolve on their own, see your doctor. Treatment might be needed to prevent further episodes. The doctor might suggest that you make a follow-up appointment with a specialist in sexual medicine, such as a urologist or an andrologist.

Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down symptoms you're experiencing, including any that might seem unrelated.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking. Tell your doctor if you're taking any other drugs.

To prepare for your appointment, write down a list of questions to discuss with the doctor. Questions might include:

  • What is likely causing the problem?
  • 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?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them might allow time later to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor might ask:

  • When did your symptoms first start?
  • How long did the erection or erections last?
  • Was the erection painful?
  • Have you had an injury to your genitals or groin?
  • Did the erection occur after using a particular substance, such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine or other drugs?

Your doctor might order lab tests to determine if a health condition is causing priapism.

What you can do in the meantime

Don't stop taking any prescription medications without consulting your doctor.

July 08, 2016
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  5. Ferri FF. Priapism. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  6. Salonia A, et al. European Association of Urology guidelines on priapism. European Urology. 2014;65:480.
  7. Stein DM, et al. Nationwide emergency department visits for priapism in the United States. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2013;10:2418.