Penile Tattoo Risks & Side Effects + Priapism Treatment & Prevention

Man gets permanent erection from tattoo: An erect penis for three months — is this great or is it dangerous? However exciting being Mr. Permanent Hardick may sound, doctors say this is not only bad but can even be a medical emergency.

In a recent paper, doctors from the Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences in Kermanshah, Iran wrote on the first reported case of a man who got a permanent semi-erection after having his penis tattooed.

Doctors diagnosed the 21-year old man, who presented himself at the hospital with “a partially rigid penis of three-month duration,” with non-ischemic priapism, the ABC News Blog reports. This condition results from the inability of blood to exit the penis.

The Iranian man got his semi-erection after having his penis tattooed with the worlds “borow be salaamat” (good luck with your journeys) and the letter “M” (his girlfriend’s initial). Researchers detail this first known case of non-ischemic priapism following penile tattooing in the January issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

“Most probably, the handheld needle penetrated the penis too deep, creating an arteriovenous fistula,” write Dr. Javaad Zargooshi and colleagues in their report. A fistula is a connection between two organs or vessels that don’t normally connect. In this case, it was an artery and a vein that made the unwanted connection.

“For eight days after tattooing, the penis was painful, and thus there were no erections,” the authors wrote. “After that, the patient noticed longer-than-usual sleep-related erections. This progressed, within a week, to a constantly half-rigid penis, day and night.”

While this might sound like bliss for men suffering from erectile dysfunction, it really isn’t.

Doctors warn men who have an erection lasting more than four hours to seek medication attention — and for good reason: one form of prolonged erection is considered a medical emergency.

A prolonged and painful erection that occurs without sexual stimulation is called a priapism, which can be either ischemic (no-flow) or non-ischemic (high-flow).

Ischemic priapisms — the most common kind — usually occur with several hours or days of a painful erection. Caused by an obstruction in the penis’ venous drainage, this results in a buildup of poorly oxygenated blood in the tissue that forms the bulk of the penis.

Considered an emergency, ischemic priapisms require immediate treatment. If left untreated, extensive scar tissue can build-up, damaging erectile function significantly and causing impotence.

Like in the Iranian man’s case, a non-ischemic priapism is not common — or painful. Usually caused by an injury to the penis or the perineum, the area between the scrotum and anus, the injury causes the artery in the erectile body to rupture and pump large amounts of blood to the penis continuously.

In a normal erection, blood rushes into the penis through the arteries to build up pressure and leaves later through the veins. But when the erectile artery is injured it pumps blood faster than it can leave, causing pressure and permanent erection — a non-ischemic priapism.

Such was the case reported by the Iranian researchers. To treat the man, doctors first investigated and ruled out known causes of priapism: perineal injury, leukemia, sickle cell trait, thalassemia and urinary tract infection. Other neurogenic, neoplastic, infectious, toxic and drug-related causes were also probed and ruled out.

The young man’s penis was then numbed with local anesthetic and, using a small needle and syringe, excess blood was drained or aspirated. Lab analysis of the aspirated penile blood showed that it was bright red, with cavernous blood gas measurements confirming high oxygen and low carbon dioxide content — characteristics of arterial priapism.