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Urology/pelvic pain after prolonged erection

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QUESTION: What would cause pain in pelvic area near side of the base of penis after a prolonged erection? My boyfriend normally is able to maintain an erection for +2 hrs. But this pain has came up a few time recently and it makes him frustrated. He's  30 now. I figured its because he's getting older.

ANSWER: Sara:

A full erection should not normally remain fully rigid for more than 30 minutes.  Longer can cause damage to the penis and pain. Have him check with his regular physician.

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QUESTION: Can you tell me which part of his anatomy specifically that this pain could possibly originate from? And if you don't mind briefly explaining how prolonged erections cause pain? Do you think the ability to hold an erection for so long would be problematic, eventhough doing so would be considered normal an had NOT caused any pain.

Answer
Sara:

The actual anatomy involved would be the erection bodies, officially called the corpora cavernosa.  These are like large sponges that hold onto the blood for the erection.  The problem with prolonged erections is that the blood is held in the penis too long. It then loses oxygen which starves the local tissues.  The penis is very tolerant of this for up to 30 minutes or so, but then the cells in the erection body start to suffer and die from lack of oxygen which is what causes the pain.

Holding a full erection for longer than 30 minutes is not normal; most men could not do it.  This is a natural protection against doing damage to the erection process.  Usually, as the tissues are damaged by lack of oxygen and blood flow, the erection would naturally relax but this does not appear to happen in your boyfriend.

Whether it causes pain or not does not by itself determine if it's "normal".  

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Stephen W. Leslie, MD

Expertise

Questions concerning erectile dysfunction, kidney stones and prostate disorders including prostate cancer. I have a special interest in kidney stone disease prevention.

Experience

Full time practicing urologist with 30 years experience. Associate Professor of Surgery and Chief of Urology at Creighton University Medical Center. Editor in Chief of eMedicine Urology internet textbook. Author of only NIH approved book written for patients by a urologist on the subject of kidney stones "The Kidney Stones Handbook". Inventor of the "Parachute" and "Escape" kidney stone baskets and the "Calculus" stone prevention analysis computer program.

Organizations
American Urological Association, Ohio State Medical Association, Sexual Medicine Society

Publications
Men's Health, Journal of Urology, Urology, Healthwatch Magazine, Emergency Medicine Monthly, eMedicine, "The Kidney Stones Handbook", and numerous articles in various newspapers. He is also the editor of the Urology Board Review by McGraw-Hill used by urologists to study for their Board Certification Examinations.

Education/Credentials
Graduate of New York Medical College with residencies completed at Metropolitan Hospital New York, Albany Medical Center and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Awards and Honors
Thirlby Award of the American Urological Association. Rated as one the country's Best Urologists by the Independent Consumer's Research Institute

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