Priapism is a long-lasting painful erection. It can cause permanent damage to your penis if not treated quickly.
Things you can try yourself to reduce a painful erection
There are things you can try to reduce your erection.
try to go for a pee
have a warm bath or shower
drink lots of water
go for a gentle walk
try exercises, such as squats or running on the spot
take painkillers like paracetamol if you need to
do not apply ice packs or cold water to your penis – this can make things worse, particularly if you have sickle cell disease
do not have sex or masturbate – it will not make your erection go away
do not drink alcohol
do not smoke
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you have an erection that lasts more than 3 to 4 hours
- you have sickle cell disease and a painful erection that lasts for more than 1 hour
An erection that lasts this long needs to be treated in hospital as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage to the penis.
Hospital treatment for priapism
Treatments to help reduce your erection include:
Causes of priapism
Priapism often affects people with sickle cell disease.
Other causes include:
Page last reviewed: 05 December 2023
Next review due: 05 December 2026