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Painful Erection: Understanding the Causes and Treatments

Gina Walters


painful erection

An erection is a normal and necessary part of sexual function, but a painful erection may cause concern.

Experiencing a painful erection can be uncomfortable for any man as it can impact a person’s sexual well-being. 

In medical terms, a painful erection is known as Priapism.

It occurs when blood becomes trapped in the erectile tissues of the penis.

It leads to constant and often painful erections that can last for several hours. 

Let us explore more about the causes and treatment options of painful erections.

Painful erection symptoms

Man with painful erectionSource: pixeloit
Painful erections may be accompanied by swellings

The two types of Priapism are: ischemic and non-ischemic. 

Ischemic Priapism is more common and occurs due to the restriction of blood flow to the penis.

On the other hand, Non-Ischemic Priapism involves persistent erections without the associated pain. It is often related to some other underlying medical conditions.

Priapism can be a rare side effect of ED medicines like Viagra, etc.

The symptoms of a painful erection can vary depending on the underlying cause. 

One of the main symptoms is a persistent erection that lasts longer than 4 hours without sexual stimulation. 

This prolonged erection is often accompanied by pain or discomfort.

Along with prolonged erection, the penis may appear swollen or enlarged.

The swelling and pain can be limited to specific areas of the penis or involve the entire organ. 

There may also be discoloration (reddish or purplish hue) due to increased blood flow and blood trapped in the erectile tissues.

The pain can interfere with normal daily activities and may worsen over time if left untreated.

Painful erection causes

Various factors can contribute to the development of painful erections.

Understanding the underlying causes is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Common causes of painful erections include blood disorders, injury to the genital area, prescription

medications, and Peyronie’s disease.

Let us study the causes of painful erection in detail

Prescription medications

Priapism may be a possible side effect of certain medicines.

According to UCSF Health, medications that can cause Priapism include certain antidepressants, high blood pressure medicines, ED medicines, anticoagulants, and more.

The risk of Priapism varies depending on dosage, individual sensitivity, and overall health. 

Consult your doctor before taking any medicine.

Blood disorders

Certain blood disorders, such as Leukemia, Sickle Cell Disease, and other conditions affecting blood cells or clotting, can disrupt the normal blood flow in the penis. 

These conditions may interfere with the proper blood draining from the penis and cause Priapism.
A study states that the possibility of Priapism in people with Sickle Cell Disease is about 35%.

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Injury to genital area

Trauma or injury to the penis or surrounding tissues can disrupt the normal blood flow.

Injuries may lead to the build-up of blood in the erectile tissues and can cause the inability to ease the erection. 

Consult a doctor if a painful erection persists after an injury to the genital area.

Peyronie’s Disease

Peyronie’s disease is where the penis develops fibrous scar tissues known as plaques.

These plaques can cause the penis to become curved or bent during an erection.

This may lead to pain, discomfort, and difficulties with sexual intercourse.

A study shows that 65.2% of people with Peyronie’s disease experience painful erections.

Viagra can help with the treatment of Peyronie’s Disease.

Peyronie’s disease is named after François Gigot de la Peyronie, a French surgeon who first described the condition in 1743.

Painful erection treatment

flowing red blood cellsSource: Science_Photo_Library
Medication can help in reducing blood flow to penile regions to reduce pain while erections

The treatment for painful erections depends on the underlying cause.

The aim of treatment is to help reduce pain, prevent complications, and restore normal erectile function.

In non-emergency situations, place a cold compress on the penis for 10-20 minutes. It may help reduce painful erection.

In cases of Ischemic Priapism, treatment involves draining excess blood from the penis using a syringe or needle. 

Medications may also be prescribed to compress the blood vessels and help reduce blood flow to the penis. 

Doctors can also consider surgery in severe cases of Priapism or when other treatment options are ineffective.

In the case of Non-Ischemic Priapism, treating the root cause is essential. 

This may involve adjusting or discontinuing certain medications, managing hormonal imbalances, or addressing underlying health conditions.

One can also prevent painful erection with lifestyle modifications such as avoiding smoking and alcohol.

Be careful while using a cold compress on the penis, as over-icing can lead to frostbite or damage to the penile tissue.

Key Takeaways

A painful erection or Priapism occurs when blood becomes trapped in the erectile tissues of the penis.

It can create an uncomfortable situation for any man and impact a person’s sexual well-being. 

Ischemic and Non-Ischemic are the two types of Priapism.

Painful erections can be caused due to various factors such as blood disorders, injury to the genital area, prescription medications, and Peyronie’s disease.

These factors influence the symptoms and treatment options for painful erections.

The treatment options for painful erections include medicines, surgery, and lifestyle modifications.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes painful erection?

Painful erections can be caused due to various factors such as blood disorders, injury to the genital area, prescription medications, and Peyronie’s disease. Consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Can I get a painful erection during sleep?

Yes, it is possible to experience a painful erection or Priapism during sleep. Priapism during sleep is usually classified as Ischemic Priapism, which occurs due to impaired blood flow. Consult a doctor if your erection is painful and lasts more than 4 hours.

Why is the morning erection painful?

Morning erections are a normal physiological response in men. While they are typically not painful, there can be instances where morning erections become uncomfortable or painful. The pain may result from restricted blood flow or the bending of fibrous tissue of the penis.

What is a painful erection that does not go away?

A painful erection that does not go away is a condition known as Priapism. It refers to a prolonged and often painful erection that persists for more than four hours without sexual stimulation. 

How long does a painful erection last?

A painful erection or Priapism will last for a minimum of 4 hours. Contact a doctor in case of prolonged and painful erection to prevent potential complications and ensure timely treatment.

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