Special Focus for Males
Affected males have most of the characteristics and symptoms previously discussed. The main complication specifically only affecting males is priapism.
Priapism is a prolonged (usually longer than 3 hours), painful erection of the penis caused by blockage of the blood vessels by clots of sickled cells. It can be stimulated with just the urge to urinate, sexual arousal, infection, or masturbation and may require hospitalization, surgery, and transfusions. Priapism may occur in males as young as five years and in adult males. Often, just emptying the bladder may relieve the pressure. However, many times there is a need for collaborative treatment by both the hematologist and the urologist (doctor who treats urinary concerns).
Due to the nature of this problem, there is much anxiety by caretakers as well as the patient. Therefore, relaxation and psychological intervention may help all involved. Relaxation aids in relieving the tension of the muscles and aids in promoting better respirations and circulation. Also, concerns about impotency should be discussed with the doctors.