Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Couple sitting down in bedroom.

Couple sitting down in bedroom.
beginning of content

Prolonged erection

A persistent, prolonged erection of the penis that will not go down is called priapism. This unwanted erection may or may not be caused by sexual arousal, is usually very painful and can last for two hours or longer.

Priapism is a medical emergency. If it’s not treated within 24 hours your penis may be permanently damaged and you might have trouble getting an erection in future. If you have an erection that is painful and won’t go away or lasts more than four hours, you should go to the nearest emergency department for medical attention.

Prolonged erection, or priapism, occurs because the blood in the penis becomes trapped and is unable to return to the circulation.

Priapism can be caused by:

  • blood disorders or other medical conditions
  • some prescription medications
  • alcohol and drug use
  • injury
  • a spider bite or an infection.

If an erection is painful, you can use an ice-pack to relieve the swelling. But it should not be placed directly against the skin – try wrapping a bag of frozen peas in a cloth (such as a tea towel) and mould this around the swollen area.

If you have had an erection that has lasted more than two hours, you should go to the nearest emergency department for medical attention.

Priapism can be a side effect of medicines used to treat erectile dysfunction. You should take medicines for erection problems only if they are prescribed by an authorised health practitioner, such as your doctor, specialist nurse or erectile specialist. Medicines bought on the internet may be of poor quality and may contain ingredients that are not safe when taken in combination with other medicines you are on. They may also be unsafe due to other health problems you have.

Learn more about erectile dysfunction medicines.

If you are worried that you might have been sold counterfeit medicines, then report it to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your prolonged erection, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: October 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 10 results

Priapism - myDr.com.au

Priapism, a persistent erection not caused by sexual desire or stimulation,  is caused by problems with the nerves or blood vessels in the penis, which results in blood remaining trapped in the penis.

Read more on myDr website

Priapism | myVMC

Priapism refers to penile erection which is sustained for six hours or more. It is most common in men who take erectile dysfunction medications.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Problems of the penis - a fact sheet | Andrology Australia

Penis lumps are common and should be checked by doctor. Priapism (persistent erection) should be treated immediately to avoid permanent damage.

Read more on Andrology Australia website

Balanitis & balano-posthitis - ACD

Balanitis is inflammation of the glans penis (head) of the male penis, due to any cause.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Peyronie's disease - myDr.com.au

Peyronie’s disease is condition where a band of scar tissue forms in the penis, causing a pronounced bend or curve in the penis when it is erect. Peyronie’s disease can affect a man’s sex life. 

Read more on myDr website

Peyronie's disease, Curvature of the penis | myVMC

Peyronie's disease causes plaque to growth in the erectile tissue of the penis. It causes male sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction or pain during sex).

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Testicular Cancer (Seminoma of the Testicle) | myVMC

Seminoma of the Testicle is a type of testicular cancer which is usually confined to the testes and typically affects 30-34 year old men.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Undescended Testes (Cryptorchidism) | myVMC

Cryptorchidism refers to undescended testes. Usually the testes descend from the abdomen to the scrotum before or in the first year after birth.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Epididymitis and Orchitis (epididymo-orchitis) | myVMC

Epididymitis occurs when infection spreads from the urinary tract to vessels in the penis and testes. It may cause orchitis or inflammation of the testes.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Impotence treatments - myDr.com.au

If you have impotence (erectile dysfunction), the treatment your doctor recommends will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your impotence.

Read more on myDr website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback