The topic many sickle-cell sufferers don’t want to talk about especially not with a loved one. Today, let’s ‘‘take the cat out of the bag’’ and look at things from professional as well as personal perspectives. Most people don’t know what priapism is, and some that knows it don’t have any idea how to handle it, when the situation arises.

First, what is priapism? – well, it is usually a prolonged painful penile erection in the absence of any sexual stimuli. There are two type of priapism, low-flow and high-flow; as their name goes, so is their severity. Low-flow priapism occurs as results of the decrease of penile venous outflow which causes stability of blood flow in the penis. This low-flow present a real emergency, because fibrosis and irreversible cellular damage occur if not treated within 24 hrs. Low-flow priapism are diverse and include our usual suspect, sickle cell disease; leukaemia; use of trazodone and sildenfile; intercavernous injection of phentolamine and papaverine, or it may be idiopathic. All this long English may not make sense, so in one sentence – low-flow priapism occurs among those with chronic diseases or those with undiagnosed/unknown conditions.

High-flow priapism occurs due to increase arterial inflow into cavernosal sinusoids that overwhelms venous outflow. The blood remains oxygenated, and permanent cellular damage and fibrosis are therefore rare. Even though high-flow priapism may be idiopathic, it is normally due to perineal trauma that results injury to the internal pudendal artery or its branches. Whatever type of priapism an individual has, it is still painful and distressing at times. The overall incidence of priapism is low in the general population. Still, when it comes to sickle cell disease, the prevalence of priapism is high and due to the stigma and lack of knowledge surrounding this issue, people that experience it don’t want to talk about it or ask for help when the crisis start.

Some people will say ‘’there is nothing to talk about’’ but they’re wrong. If they don’t want to talk about it with a family member or spouse; they should seek professional advice like from their Haematologist, health consultant or a sickle cell consultant. Due to lack of consultation many people with sickle cell disease suffers from erectile disfunction, leading to many marriage problems. The thing is, applying cold water, having sex or masturbating during priapism episode makes the crisis worse and may lead to severe pain or even been hospitalised.

This kind of topic can be boring that’s why i want to keep it short and simple. Talking about our health issues isn’t a weakness, it’s a sign of being human and knowing who really care about us.

Thank you for your time, you can leave your thought or just share it with someone who can benefit from this.


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