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Urinary and Genital Disorders (Children)

Child penile erections

08/27/2008

Question:

I am the mother of a four year old son who has been having penile erections since birth, and up until about a year ago he had complained of them being painful to the point that he said once that he wants to take it off. Recently he hasn`t complained of pain. Insteaed, he just plays with it a lot. Is this normal or should I have reason to be concerned? What should I do?

Answer:

That is an unusual problem. It is possible that it is related to a condition termed priapism, in which there is an erection that does not go away. In children, this results most commonly from sickle cell disease or trait, and in the United States, is observed almost always in African American boys. Usually they are older, near puberty, however. Some boys seem to have erections that do not go down. Rarely is a definite cause determined. It could be caused by medication. Sometimes a drug like Pseudophed can cause the erection to go down. My suggestion is to take him to see a pediatric urologist, who might be able to determine a definite cause and prescribe a treatment.

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Response by:

Jack S Elder, MD, FACS, FAAP Jack S Elder, MD, FACS, FAAP
Clinical Professor of Urology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University