Because of all the joys that are associated with an erect penis, many a man has found himself wishing he could stay in that state permanently. (Indeed, during adolescence it sometimes seems that this actually IS the case.) But in fact, priapism, a prolonged erection, can be a serious condition. Exercising adequate penis care can't prevent priapism, but knowing about this condition and what to do if it does occur are important to ensure the health of a man's favorite body part.

Priapism vs. a strong erect penis

So what's the difference between priapism and having an erect penis for a marathon sex session? Basically, even among men who engage in sex for hours on end, the firmness of the erection varies; indeed, most likely a man will go relatively "soft" for some periods even when he continues to engage sexually for an extended period of time.

With priapism, however, the penis remains firmly erect for four hours or more without ever "deflating"- and often this occurs not when a man is sexually active but is simply in a "neutral" state.

That may sound like a "so what?" kind of situation - after all, guys are used to getting boners that may cause some discomfort but are not really a pain. With priapism, however, there can be genuine pain associated with it. Many men who have experienced it say that the pain can become intense and nearly unbearable - and it's not a pain that can be relieved by simply masturbating, as the organ continues to remain erect.


Of even more concern than the discomfort is the fact that episodes of priapism can cause substantial damage. Penis tissue, blood vessels and circulation can all be dangerously impacted. In some cases, if left untreated, it can lead to chronic or permanent erectile dysfunction or even to gangrenous infection.

Cause and treatment

Priapism occurs when blood flows into the penis and cannot escape. There are several situations which can cause this to occur, including blockage due to sickling (in a man with sickle cell anemia), a ruptured penile artery, penile injury, medication side effects (often associated with drugs intended to treat erectile issues) and trauma to the spinal cord.

Treatment varies depending on the underlying cause, but it should always be handled by a doctor. Sometimes nothing more is needed than careful application of ice packs; in other cases, the doctor may suggest removal of excess blood via a needle, application of a drug which can help to alleviate the cause of the blockage or other means. In some cases, surgery may be required.

Priapism is considered a fairly rare disorder; a 2001 study from the Netherlands found an incidence rate of 5 cases in the 145,000 men in the study. It is more likely to occur in men between the ages of 20 and 50; in men with sickle cell disease, it is most likely to occur between ages 19 and 21. However, it can occur in men of any age.

Although many men may feel embarrassed about receiving treatment for what they think of as merely an aggressively erect penis, it's important to receive professional treatment for priapism. It's also important to maintain overall penis health so that the organ is in its best possible condition. Using a first-class penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) can help maintain that penile fitness. Look for a crème that includes L-arginine, an enzyme which aids nitric oxide production and thereby helps open blood vessels. Also key: a crème with alpha lipoic acid, a potent antioxidant which helps offset harmful oxidative processes that prematurely age penis cells.