COVID-19 may cause priapism in men, medical experts have said.
Priapism is a prolonged erection of the penis. The persistent erection continues hours beyond o and is not usually caused by sexual stimulation.
An unidentified 62-year-old man from France suffered the painful condition while receiving care in hospital for a severe bout of the coronavirus.
His erection was caused by trapped blood in the penis, which was found to be full of blood clots when it was drained by medics. Blood clotting, or thrombosis, has been reported as a dangerous complication in up to a third of coronavirus-infected patients.
As many as 30 per cent of people in hospital with the coronavirus develop blood clots, according to doctors.
Experts say they have seen rising numbers of people with tiny clots in their lungs as well as larger ones in the veins.
Clots are dangerous because they can damage the tissue around them and also break off, travelling to the brain or heart to trigger a stroke or heart attack.
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Professor Roopen Arya, from King’s College London, said in May: “I think it has become apparent that thrombosis is a major problem,” the BBC reported.
“Particularly in severely affected Covid patients in critical care, where some of the more recent studies show that nearly half the patients have pulmonary embolism or blood clot on the lungs.”
Arya said he thinks rates of blood clots among people who are severely ill with COVID-19 could be 30 per cent or higher.
The reason patients are developing clots is because the virus makes their blood stickier, he observed, by triggering the release of certain hormones in the lungs.
Blood thinners, which are usually used to prevent or shrink clots, are dangerous in high doses because they can lead to uncontrollable bleeding in the event of an injury.
Dr Richard Viney, a consultant urological surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, United Kingdom, said this case was ‘interesting’ and he hadn’t come across any COVID-19 patients with priapism himself.
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He told MailOnline: “We haven’t seen any cases of COVID-related priapism like this and we have dealt with more Covid patients than any other European hospital as far as I’m aware, so this is clearly a rare but explainable manifestation of Covid.
“Although the article doesn’t go into detail on his follow up I would suspect a high likelihood of profound erectile failure after this event which is unlikely to respond to medication. He would likely require a penile prosthesis insertion should he want to maintain his potency.
”In this patient, he has low flow priapism which would certainly fit with microemboli (little clots forming in smaller blood vessels) and this is one of the complications of Covid we see in many other organ systems.”