Priapism involves one basic symptom: a painful engorgement of erectile tissues that lasts for more than four hours. It occurs when blood becomes trapped in the genital area and does not circulate back into the rest of the body. While women can have priapism, it's more common in men, and men and women require different treatments for the condition.
Priapism can happen spontaneously, but it can also be caused by some medications, diseases or conditions. It's a potential side effect of medications used to treat erectile dysfunction, as well as some antidepressants and recreational drugs like cocaine. Men with sickle-cell anemia often develop priapism -- it occurs in about 40 percent of males with the disease [Source: Cleveland Clinic]. Finally, some cancers and injuries to the scrotum or penis can cause priapism.
Given the large amount of blood trapped in the genitals, priapism in males is a medical emergency. It can cause vessel damage, scarring, a loss of function or even gangrene if left untreated. The earlier people seek attention, the better their chances of a full recovery. An injection of decongestant medications at a doctor's office or hospital can usually get the blood flowing out again. If the patient has had an erection for longer than four hours, he may need a surgical shunt to redirect blood flow or have the blood removed from the penis with a needle.
While priapism isn't an emergency in women, it's still very painful. Treatments include ice packs and anti-inflammatory medication, which usually relieves the tenderness and swelling.
Now, let's look at a condition that's all about wanting sex ... all of the time.