Sleep-Related Painful Erections

Gilles Karsenty; Esther Werth; Peter A. Knapp; Armin Curt; Brigitte Schurch; Claudio L. Bassetti


Nat Clin Pract Urol. 2005;2(5):256-260. 

In This Article


Background: A 45-year-old man presented with repeated awakenings at night caused by nocturnal painful erections, in sharp contrast with normal erections at other times, 2 years after surgical removal of a thoracic (Th6–7) ependymoma.
Investigations: Physical examination, pharmaco-sensitized penile Doppler ultrasound, spinal and brain MRI, neurophysiological work-up (tibial and perineal somatosensory-evoked potential; hand, foot and perineal sympathetic skin response assessment), polysomnography with recording of nocturnal penile tumescence.
Diagnosis: Sleep-related painful erections, characterized by penile pain during nocturnal erection, typically during rapid eye movement sleep, in the presence of a residual thoracic spinal cord syndrome.
Management: Amitriptyline, an antidepressant that suppresses rapid eye movement sleep, was ineffective. Treatments with other antidepressants, clozapine and beta-blockers were suggested, but the patient declined because of potential severe side effects.


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