Sexual health expert Dr. Catherine Hood answers a question on what causes prolonged erections in the company of Emma Howard.
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Emma Howard: Hello! We are answering questions on sexual health. I am joined by Dr. Catherine Hood. Hello! Dr. Catherine Hood: Hello! Emma Howard: Catherine, I have got a question here from a 26-year-old young man, who has recently been experiencing prolonged erections of, he says, between four and six hours which sounds really uncomfortable. Now, he says he is on medication for an unrelated condition and he says could this be the cause? Dr. Catherine Hood: Okay. The first thing is he really does need to go and see somebody about this, because having an erection that lasts that long can be quite damaging. It's a condition that we call priapism. And really, if you have an erection that lasts for four hours or over, it can start to damage the penis, and actually in the future could lead to problems with getting erections in the first place. So it is important he goes to see somebody to try and find out what the causes are behind it. Now, the thing is when you have an erection, what happens is that blood flows into the penis and that's what makes it hard, and anything that stopped blood flowing out of the penis again is going to make it difficult for that erection to disappear. Emma Howard: Hence the damage that could be done. Dr. Catherine Hood: Hence the damage, yeah. And there are many things that can damage that mechanism of blood going in and blood coming out again. Certainly prescribed medications can do it. Some of the older anti-depressants have been to cause this side-effect. But also recreational medicines that he may or may not be taking, such as marijuana and cocaine, have been linked with prolonged erections as well. So if he goes to the doctor, it's very, very important he is totally honest about what he is talking and open. Emma Howard: Yes he is. Dr. Catherine Hood: There are certain health conditions as well that can lead to problems with the erectile apparatus. Sickle cell disease is one. If sickle cell runs in his family, then it maybe - then it's worth being checked out for sickle cell. Emma Howard: But he really must go and talk to somebody about it. Dr. Catherine Hood: He really just needs to go and talk to somebody. And the other thing is if it does happen, if he has a sustained erection, because it's very painful having this. Emma Howard: Yeah, I would have thought it's incredibly uncomfortable. Dr. Catherine Hood: Exactly. The thing is you need to get help to sometimes reduce the erection. Don't try and do it yourself because it can cause further damage. Emma Howard: Right. So this is knowing well, you do need help and you need to be honest about everything that you might be taking. Dr. Catherine Hood: Absolutely. Emma Howard: Good advice, as always, Catherine. Thank you. Well, if you have a similar problem, we hope we might have given you some help. But remember, it's always best to go and see your own doctor for medical advice. Thanks for watching. We will be back with more health questions and answers.