A rare complication of the coronavirus appears to be painful, prolonged erections.
One US victim of COVID-19 experienced priapism (a long-lasting erection) when, doctors believe, the disease caused blood to clot in his penis, according to a new study on the complication.
In August 2020, an obese 69-year-old was admitted to Dayton, Ohio’s Miami Valley Hospital with a bad case of the coronavirus.
The anonymous man, who eventually died from other complications of the virus, was experiencing severe breathlessness, inflammation, and had fluid buildup in his lungs. Medical personnel sedated him before placing him on a ventilator, but his condition continued to deteriorate.
After 10 days, his lungs began failing, and the man was turned face down — an emergency technique used to help air better move throughout his body. After 12 hours, when medics turned him face up again, the nurses noticed that his shaft was erect.
After three hours, unable to fix the situation with an ice pack, medics drained the man’s penis of blood with a needle, successfully fixing the bout of priapism. The man was unconscious throughout.
"Priapism did not reoccur," three Miami Valley hospital doctors wrote in a report on the patient in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. However, his lungs did not recover, and the patient ultimately died in the ICU.
Medical professionals say the symptom is likely caused by an immune overreaction called a "cytokine storm," and makes sense as a side effect of COVID, which is known to cause blood clots. Unaffiliated doctors say that priapism is still an "interesting" manifestation of the disease.
"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," consultant urological surgeon Dr. Richard Viney of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham told the Daily Mail. "In this patient, he had 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."
In June, a separate study also published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported a similar situation: A 62-year-old who had contracted the coronavirus experienced an ice pack-resistant four-hour erection which also needed to be drained with a needle and is believed to have been caused by blood clots. Before contracting the novel disease, the man had no history of blood clots.
This article originally appeared on the NYPost.com.