Painful Erection (Priapism): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 10/12/2020

A painful erection that lasts for an unusually long time is medically known as priapism. This can happen due to multiple causes and is most common in men in their 30s. Examples of conditions that can cause priapism include Peyronie's disease, a disease in which a sheet of scar tissue forms within the penis. Other causes can include

Men with sickle cell anemia and some other blood diseases are at increased risk for priapism.

Painful or prolonged erections are not normal, and an erection that lasts for more than 4 hours requires urgent medical attention.

Other causes of painful erection (priapism)

  • Medications
  • Trauma, Such as a Car Accident or Bike Accident
  • Urethritis


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.