Andrew Campbell, M.D.: Hello, I’m Dr. Andrew Campbell. I’m a Pediatric hematologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C. and I’m currently direct a pediatric Sickle Cell Program at Children’s National Medical Center.
Sickle Cell Disease has many complications and in one of those is priapism which affects men with Sickle Cell Disease at a rate of 40 to 50 percent, and unfortunately many aging adolescent males and young adult males have been told that their ability to father a child or reproduce is limited based on the recurrent episodes of priapism.
Priapism is a very scary event for a Sickle Cell male that priapism can affect 40 percent 50 percent of men with Sickle Cell Disease and can begin as early as three or four years of age. It is cycling within the penis and it can be very painful and it leads to painful erections unfortunately repeated episodes can have an effect on the reproductive health of Sickle Cell males affecting their sperm count for example. Also this is coupled with Sickle Cell patients have to take a drug called hydroxyurea Which is one of the FDA true approved drugs for Sickle Cell Disease and they’re told over and over again that not to take hydroxyurea if they’re planning to have a family.
Many of the Sickle Cell males feel stigmatized about this because it makes them feel uncomfortable to talk about this topic to their providers. And I just want to talk about that more now priapism although it does affect Sickle Cell males and can affect your ability to fathered children does not permanently lead to that. And that’s one of the misconceptions that we would like to discuss and two health care providers that are out there. So that they understand that that’s not the only reason why males cannot father a child. And secondly, hydroxyurea even though it’s been reported to have the ability to lower your chance of fathering children. We know that that’s not entirely true because there have been many fathers many men who fathered children with Sickle Cell Disease and the children are all most of them are OK to my knowledge has not been in reported cases of adverse.
We call adverse or side effects of the hydroxyurea on their future children. I know pride is and can be a very difficult problem for our males with Sickle Cell Disease and I know that you may be suffering a lot from this condition. I would recommend that. You talk with your health care provider about prices and more because there might be new treatments on their horizon for private. I know personally that I’ve treated my patients for priapism and referred them to the urologist and I now know that they’re actually more options for priapism patients.
Secondly, I would also tell you that although you might have heard from other health care providers that your ability to father children might be limited at this time. But I can tell you that I’ve seen many men that I’ve taken care of Father multiple children with private business. So I hope that you’re not discouraged about having children with your current or future partner or spouse. Don’t get down. Don’t get depressed. There are many options out there for priapism and treatments. And make sure you let your health care provider know.