What should I do if my erection won’t go down?

If you’ve had an erection for more than four hours, go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department.

If your erection has lasted for less than four hours, try the tips below to get it to go down.

Why won’t my erection go down?

The medical name for having an erection that won't go down is priapism. It happens when the blood that fills the penis to make it erect gets trapped and cannot flow back out again. Priapism is usually extremely painful.

A prolonged erection can damage the penis and could cause permanent problems in getting an erection. Therefore, it’s important that priapism is treated quickly.

What causes priapism?

Often, the cause of priapism is unknown. It can be due to nerve damage or a side effect of some types of medication, such as those for impotence (erectile dysfunction). It can also be caused by conditions that affect the blood, such as sickle-cell anaemia or leukaemia, or by an injury to the penis or genital area.

Alcohol and illegal drugs can also cause priapism.

How can I get my erection to go down?

Gentle exercise, such as jogging or using an exercise bike, may help your erection go down. Having a warm bath may also help. Passing urine can help and this may be easier in a warm bath. Use painkillers to relieve the discomfort priapism causes.

However, if these steps do not help and you’ve had a painful erection for more than four hours, go to A&E as this is an emergency.

Will I need treatment?

If you’ve tried the methods above and your erection hasn’t gone down, you’ll need treatment.

Treatment for priapism may involve taking medication or draining blood from the penis. If the priapism is caused by an underlying condition, this will need to be treated. Surgery may be necessary to prevent permanent damage.

Read more information about priapism.

Read the answers to more questions about men's health.

Further information:

 

Page last reviewed: 23/11/2012

Next review due: 22/11/2014