Priapism is a painful and discomfort condition a male experience. In this condition, a man has a rigid and prolonged erection without sexual arousal. This is named after the Greek God “Priapus,” known as the God of fertility due to his prolonged erection. However, in humans, prolonged erection is not a good condition.
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It is an unhealthy condition and is considered a medical disorder. This condition needs medical attention, but you can also proceed with some home remedies which can help alleviate the priapism symptoms. Here we are going to discuss priapism home treatment in detail, so keep reading.
What is Priapism?
Priapism is a medical condition characterized by a painful erection in the penis unrelated to arousal. It is often caused by penis injury or obstruction of blood supply to the penis tissues. It is a rare disorder; 1 man in 100,000 are at risk of priapism, particularly those who use non-prescribed medication, have some strain on their penis, or use penile injections.
It is categorized into three types: ischemic, nonischemic, and recurrent Ischemic, based on the symptoms and severity of the disorder. Ischemic is a medical emergency, and you require instant doctor’s attention. Home remedies can’t cure or treat Priapism permanently, but they can help to lower its symptoms. We don’t recommend treating it at home; consult a physician because your health matters.
Types of Priapism
Following are the broadly classified types of Priapism:
Ischemic Priapism (Also called Low-Flow Priapism)
It is a common type of Priapism. It is mainly caused due to blockage of blood in the corpus cavernosum (spongy tissues in the penis which fill with blood during sexual intercourse to provide erection). Blood flow is stuck into the corpus cavernosum and can’t escape (i.e., no blood flow happens here); it results in tissue damage, erectile dysfunction, loss of fertility, and medical complications. It requires urgent medical attention.
Nonischemic Priapism (High-Flow)
Nonischemic priapism is a less common condition characterized by abnormally high blood flow to the penis blood vessels and prolonged erection. It is usually caused due to any injury within penis tissues or surrounding areas. In this condition, you may have an erection, but not a rigid penile shaft, for more than 4 hours. It usually goes away on its own, but still, you need a doctor’s consultation if there is any underlying cause.
Recurrent Ischemic Priapism (Stuttering Priapism)
Recurrent ischemic is the recurrent episodes of ischemic priapism. In this condition, a person gets an erection that goes away and then arises again with more pain and distress. Its causes are unknown, but sickle cell anemia, blood cancer, or substance abuse are generally linked with its causing factors. It also arises due to disruption of blood supply to penis tissues. This is treated with medicines, exercises, or even surgery (when required).
Symptoms of Priapism
Following is the list of priapism symptoms:
- Erections that are painful and last longer than four hours
- An erect shaft but a soft glans (tip of the penis)
- Erections that are too strong to be released by sexual activity or orgasm
- The penis’ stiffness, which can be tense and painful to touch.
- The penis expands and becomes sensitive.
- Long-term erections can cause worry and anxiety.
- Urine or sperm with blood (rarely)
- A burning penile feeling spreads to the lower belly or groin.
- Painless erection that exists for several hours or days
- Erection is not fully stiff in penile shafts
- Erections don’t release by sexual activity or orgasm
- Erection feels tough and rigid but not painful or tender
- No pain or tenderness in the penis but swelling of the penis or surrounding tissues
- No blood or semen while urination
Recurrent Ischemic Priapism
- Repeated episodes of erections last several hours.
- Every time you get an erection, it is stiffer and more painful than the previous episode.
- Increased the frequency of attacks over time.
- In severe cases, a medical complication such as erectile dysfunction can happen.
Cause of Priapism
The exact cause of priapism is still unknown, but the following are considered the most common causes of priapism:
- Impaired blood flow out of the penis
- Blood disorders (in some cases, sickle cell anemia, leukemia, and thalassemia can cause priapism)
- Using non-prescribed medicines (some drugs such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticoagulants, or Levitra, and Viagra causes priapism as a side effect).
- Penis, penile or perineal trauma (which disrupts the blood flow)
- Damage to spinal cord nerves (which control blood flow to the penis) may also cause priapism.
- Substances abuse (cocaine, tobacco, alcohol, vaping, marijuana, narcotics can cause erectile dysfunction and priapism)
- Pelvic trauma or surgery
- Tumors or vascular malformations in the penis or penile tissues.
Priapism Home Remedies
Nonischemic priapism usually goes away because there is no permanent damage to penis tissues. However, ischemic and recurrent ischemic priapism is a severe condition that needs urgent medical attention, priapism home remedies don’t help cure the condition, but they can help to release some of its discomforts. Following are the home remedies to ease the pain and erection:
Ice packs help to ease the symptoms of abnormal erection, particularly in the case of ischemic priapism, where there is disrupted blood flow out of the penile tissues. Applying cold temperatures through ice packs helps to constrict the blood vessels and potentially reduce the blood flow to the penis area, eventually resulting in pain relief and loss of some erection over time.
For the icing, you should avoid direct application of ice to the affected area; it may cause ice burn; instead, wrap the ice cubes in a thin cloth or towel. Avoid applying ice wrap to the penis; instead, place wrapped ice packs on the region between the scrotum and the anus. Do this icing for 12 to 20 minutes with some warm-up breaks. During and after icing, monitor the affected area to see any improvement. In case you have an erection lasting longer than 4 hours or the pain worsens over time, go to the doctor immediately.
Take a Warm Bath
A warm bath helps priapism, particularly non-ischemic priapism, where there is high arterial blood flow into the penis. Soaking yourself in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes helps to dilate the blood vessels, which helps normalize the blood flow out of the penis. It results in a reduction of excessive blood flow to the penis and loss of erection.
For this remedy, water should be comfortably warm. Ensure the warm water covers your genital areas. You should relax during this warm bathtub session. Also, after or during the warm bath, you should monitor your condition; if the pain worsens, you should urgently swap to medical treatment.
Engaging in gentle exercises such as walking, kegel exercise, and stretching helps to improve the blood flow to the penis area and reduce priapism symptoms. However, you should avoid high-intensity and strenuous workouts. Instead, consider light and cardiovascular activities. Following are some exercises that can help to ease the symptoms of priapism:
Walking or brisk walking helps to improve the blood flow throughout the body, including the penile region. It helps to reduce the symptoms of priapism.
Stretching your body while targeting the pelvic region or lower body helps to reduce potential strain in the pelvic area and improve blood flow in the lower body. It also helps to ease the priapism symptoms.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercise, particularly Kegels, helps to improve the blood circulation in the genital, pelvic, and lower body, which helps significantly in enhancing reproduction health and easing priapism or erectile dysfunction symptoms.
In male kids with priapism, urine retention for long is the associated cause of this condition. Frequent urination helps in detumescence (removing extra fluid from the penis and reducing genital organ swelling).
Moreover, since the urine bladder is placed close to genital organs, a filled bladder can strain the penis or other affected areas, which may result in more damage and pain. It is therefore recommended to keep your urinary bladder empty so that you may have some relaxation in your pain.
Besides, it helps to reduce bacterial invasion from the urine to the damaged tissues and infection risk. It also helps provide pelvic muscle relaxation, improving blood circulation and inducing relaxation.
Although it doesn’t help to cure or reverse the priapism, keeping your urine empty through frequent urination can help to ease some distress and symptoms.
Hydration is the key to a healthy body and better bodily function. Although it doesn’t contribute directly to helping priapism, it may ease it in various ways. By staying hydrated, your blood circulation and quality improve drastically, which helps prevent priapism.
Moreover, hydration also helps to reduce the sickle cell crises, which is the leading cause of priapism and erectile dysfunction in men.
Again, hydration doesn’t consider an alternative to priapism medical treatment.
Avoid Over-the-Counter Drugs
You should avoid non-prescribed drugs that cause priapism, such as antidepressants, anticoagulants, antihypertensives, hormonal medicines, and psychotropic drugs. Moreover, the drugs such as Cialis, Levitra, Viagra, trazodone, heparin, warfarin, hydroxyurea, cytarabine testosterone, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs have been reported to cause priapism as a side effect.
Trazodone (type of drug/chemical) priapism is a rare occurrence. Still, you should avoid using the medication without the prescription of a medical expert and proper guidance on its side effects and dosage.
Does Masturbation Help Priapism?
Masturbation, sexual stimulation, orgasm, or climax can’t reverse the priapism. Instead, sexual activity without arousal may cause intense pain and prolonged erection.
Life After Priapism
Priapism is a curable disease. Treatment options usually include medication, drainage of trapped blood or fluid from the penis, or surgery in severe cases. When it is appropriately treated, a person is able to enjoy his physical health as a normal person.
After treating priapism, it is important to maintain regular medical check-ups and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
In case of recurrence of its symptoms, you are suggested to consult the doctor and do the follow-up care. Leaving it under-treated or ignored may cause permanent damage to penis tissues or erectile dysfunction.
It is a medical emergency if you have recurrent or long-hour priapism with worsening pain and swallowing. You are highly recommended to attend the doctor in the first place. However, if your pain is less intense and you have time to visit the clinic, home remedies such as icing and warm bathing may help. Moreover, a healthy lifestyle and hygienic measures such as proper cleaning of your genital regions, frequent urination, cardio exercise, hydration, and healthy eating may also help to prevent this condition and improve overall wellness.