In most cases, a guy would hardly consider an erect penis to be a crisis. Sure, occasionally popping a noticeable boner while giving a presentation or when meeting a partner’s parents can be embarrassing or awkward, but it’s hardly an emergency. However, when that erect penis is due to priapism, things are quite different. A man needs to take steps in order to maintain his penis health and deal with the pain that accompanies priapism.

What is priapism?

Priapism is named after the Greek fertility god, Priapus, who was known for always sporting a very large, permanently erect penis. It is defined as a medical condition in which a man’s penis remains erect for an extended period of time - typically four or more hours. While some men might joke that having a raging erection for that long would be a dream come true, priapism is no joking matter. When a man has a constant boner, the process by which the penis is kept erect for so long can cause a considerable amount of pain. It also can do significant damage to the penis.

Why does it happen?

Priapism comes in two forms: ischemic and non-ischemic. Ischemic means that the condition is caused by blood getting "trapped" in the penis while erect and being unable to flow back into the body when the normal period of activity has passed. Nonischemic priapism results when there is a vascular "hitch" that impedes but does not totally stop the flow of blood. The nonischemic variety tends to produce erections which are "softer" and don’t create much pain or damage.

Nonischemic cases tend to result from trauma - such as a blow to an erect penis - and are usually treated with ice packs on the perineum.

The vast majority of priapism cases are ischemic. Ischemic instances can come from a variety of causes. Sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait are a leading cause, affecting up to 64% of men with sickle cell. The sickle shape of the blood cells can cause them to "stop up" the flow, creating the painfully erect penis.

Other causes include medications (including those used to treat erectile dysfunction), cocaine, heroin, alcohol and certain spider bites.

Beyond pain

Beyond the pain and inconvenience associated with a persistent erection, priapism can damage the delicate penile tissue. When the blood remains trapped in the penis, it loses a significant amount of oxygen, which in turn degenerates the tissue. This can have short and long-term effects on erectile function. In rare cases, surgery may be required.


A man experiencing priapism should consult with a doctor right away. The physician can determine the best course of treatment. Often, it may involve draining some blood from the erect penis. In some cases, medication may be used to help open up the blood flow.

When an erect penis turns into a case of priapism, a man is likely to experience pain and soreness that may linger even after the erection has been successfully dealt with. Soothing that soreness is crucial, so using a first rate penis health crème ( health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin) is advised. If a crème includes both a high-end emollient (such as Shea butter) and a natural hydrator (such as vitamin E), it can help to provide moisturizing relief that eases the penis ache. It’s also wise to choose a crème with both L-arginine and vitamin C. The former is an aid in the process that keeps penis blood vessels open, while the latter is used in collagen formation, which keeps the penis tissue strong.