Painful Erections: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Penis pain is a sensitive topic that many men feel embarrassed to talk about. But if you’ve noticed your erections hurt, then it’s important to recognize this as a valid medical condition and speak to a doctor. Painful erections that last for over four hours are called priapism in medical terms, and they are never normal. When you start to develop painful erections, seeking treatment is the best way to protect your health and avoid complications.

Priapism is more common among men 20 to 50 years old, but it can occur at any time. There are several potential causes to know about, especially if you are currently considering or taking prescription medication for erectile dysfunction (ED).

Why Your Penis Might Hurt

You can develop painful erections for a number of reasons, but every painful erection occurs due to trapped blood. When you get an erection, the penile tissues expand and blood flows into the penis. The veins in your penis get smaller to maintain the erection, which is what makes the penis stiff and firm. This blood goes down over time or after sexual activity.

When someone has a painful erection, it can last for several hours and worsen with time. The blood vessels are not relaxing like they should, and the erection does not go away with orgasm or ejaculation.

There are several potential reasons why your penis may hurt when you get an erection.

Peyronie’s Disease

The most common cause of a painful erection is Peyronie’s disease, which affects 10% of men 40 and older. Peyronie’s disease Is the development of scar tissue inside of the penis which alters its natural curve. Men with this condition likely won't have pain when the penis is flaccid, but they do develop pain when they get an erection.


Another possible cause of penis pain during erection is taking certain medications like blood thinners, medication for high blood pressure, or prescription medications to treat erectile dysfunction. Both of these medications impact your circulation, which can have an impact on your penile function.


Substances like cocaine and cannabis can also affect blood flow, leading to painful erections that do not go away. You may also experience erectile dysfunction from taking drugs.


Some men may experience painful erections if they have an STI, such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia. It is important to get screened whenever you are intimate with a new partner. You may also find that arousal is painful due to an underlying STI and experience ED as a result.


A severe lower urinary tract infection may, in some cases, cause painful erections. This is not a common cause of painful erections, but if you experience symptoms like painful urination, urgency, inability to empty the bladder, and cloudy or bloody urine, seek medication attention immediately.

Sickle Cell Disease

Men with sickle cell disease are more likely to have painful erections and experience priapism. If you have this condition, do not apply ice to the penis or area around it, as this can make it worse.

Unknown Causes

In one-third of priapism cases, the underlying cause is unknown. There could be an issue with damaged blood vessels or another condition affecting circulation. A penile fracture could also be the culprit. The only way to find out is to see a professional who can assess your penis.

Signs of Painful Erections

Symptoms of priapism are:

  • A painful erection that worsens over time and lasts for hours
  • A partial erection that lasts over several days, even without pain

Painful erections can feel mild at first and worsen as the erection endures. Engaging in sexual activity or masturbation will not relieve the symptoms. The best thing to do is seek medical attention right away.

How To Ease A Painful Erection

Not treating a prolonged painful erection is not only uncomfortable — it could cause serious complications. Priapism can lead to tissue death in the penis as the trapped blood is deprived of oxygen. Without treatment, priapism can also lead to erectile dysfunction.

Seek emergency care if you develop a painful erection that does not go away within four hours. If you feel like you need to go sooner, then don’t hesitate to seek medical care. Coping with painful erections is difficult and frustrating, but more importantly, it is a medical condition that needs treatment.

The best painful erection remedies are prescribed by medical doctors who can determine the underlying cause. Some other things you can try are:

  • Urinating
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Drinking water
  • Doing gentle exercises, like squats or light jogging on the spot
  • Going for a walk

If your penile discomfort persists, seek out a professional opinion. Even if you do not develop priapism, suffering from any type of pain during arousal or without stimulation can lead to physical and emotional suffering. The best thing to do for yourself is talk with a doctor — your primary care physician or a urologist are the best bet.

Ways To Treat Erection Pain

There are several ways a doctor can get rid of a painful erection, including:

  • Numbing the penis and using a syringe to remove the excess blood through a process called aspiration decompression.
  • Injecting medication directly into the penis to open the blood vessels that carry blood to the penis, restoring proper circulation.
  • Surgically removing excess blood from the penis if the other methods are unsuccessful.

Do not ignore a painful erection. Do not have sex or masturbate to alleviate it. Orgasm or ejaculation cannot cure priapism. Putting an ice pack on the premium (the space between your penis and anus) may be able to help ease the erection naturally. Try this method first, and if it works, make an appointment to talk with your doctor about the underlying cause of the painful erection.

When To See a Doctor About Penis Pain

Penis pain is abnormal, so you should always see a doctor if you experience it. There are two types of priapism you could have:

  • Ischemic priapism is an emergency situation that requires medical attention.
  • Non-ischemic priapism are painful erections that do not last more than four hours and resolve on their own. Nevertheless, they are still worth discussing and seeking treatment for.

Outside of priapism, painful erections can be an enduring issue for many men, especially those who are already coping with erectile dysfunction. If any at-home remedies are unsuccessful, consult with a physician who can help you uncover the underlying cause and find appropriate treatments.

Don’t let embarrassment stop you from enjoying your sex life. It can feel awkward bringing up the topic of penis pain, but remember, your doctor is a medical professional. It’s their job to problem solve and find solutions. Push past any initial embarrassment so you can look after yourself.

If you’d like to discuss your penile function with a doctor from the comfort of home, reach out to Phoenix. We’ll connect you with a licensed men’s health doctor in Canada who specializes in erectile dysfunction.


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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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