Urology Annals
About UA | Search | Ahead of print | Current Issue | Archives | Instructions | Online submissionLogin 
Urology Annals
  Editorial Board | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact
Users Online: 733   Home Print this page  Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size

Table of Contents
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 108-110  

Priapism, pomegranate juice, and sildenafil: Is there a connection?

1 Department of Emergency and Critical Care, Sri Gokulam Hospitals and Research Institute, Salem, Tamilnadu, India
2 Department of Internal Medicine, Chennai Medical College and Research Center, Irungalur, Trichy, Tamilnadu, India

Date of Submission28-Dec-2010
Date of Acceptance27-Mar-2011
Date of Web Publication3-May-2012

Correspondence Address:
Subramanian Senthilkumaran
Department of Accident, Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, Sri Gokulam Hospital and Research Institute, Salem 636 004, Tamilnadu
Login to access the Email id

DOI: 10.4103/0974-7796.95560

PMID: 22629009

Rights and Permissions

We report the development of low flow priapism in three patients related to simultaneous consumption of sildenafil with pomegranate (Punica granatum) (POM) juice. There were no other concurrent diseases, intake of drugs, and chemicals or other risk factors in these patients. We want to create awareness among patients and practitioners for recognition and timely intervention. Probable mechanisms are highlighted.

Keywords: Alternative medicine, complementary, cytochrome, pomegranate, priapism, sildenafil

How to cite this article:
Senthilkumaran S, Balamurugan N, Suresh P, Thirumalaikolundusubramanian P. Priapism, pomegranate juice, and sildenafil: Is there a connection?. Urol Ann 2012;4:108-10

How to cite this URL:
Senthilkumaran S, Balamurugan N, Suresh P, Thirumalaikolundusubramanian P. Priapism, pomegranate juice, and sildenafil: Is there a connection?. Urol Ann [serial online] 2012 [cited 2021 Nov 27];4:108-10. Available from: https://www.urologyannals.com/text.asp?2012/4/2/108/95560

   Introduction Top

Sildenafil citrate is a potent and selective inhibitor of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). It has been widely prescribed for erectile dysfunction. [1] The adverse events reported are flushing, dizziness, headache, tachycardia, chest pain, drowsiness, hypotension, nausea, and syncope. [2] However, priapism with isolated use of sildenafil in therapeutic dose has been documented rarely. [3] Medications containing nitrates, alpha blockers, HIV protease inhibitors, and St. John's wort has to taken very cautiously. Also, use of potent cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4 inhibitors namely macrolide and imidazole antimicrobials as well as non-specific CYP inhibitor cimetidine are associated with increased plasma levels of sildenafil and may aggravate the actions of sildenafil.

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) (POM) juice has a high content of polyphenolic flavonoid. The flavonoids have potent anti-oxidant and anti-atherosclerotic properties. Owing to these nutritional characteristics, HEART-UK and the cholesterol charity encourages consumption of POM as part of a routine heart healthy diet. [4] This endorsement motivates people to drink the juice for its potential health benefits. Priapism following concurrent use of sildenafil and POM juice is reported for the first time in the literature to create awareness on this entity.

   Case Reports Top

Case 1

A 46-year-old man presented to the emergency room with a persistent and painful penile erection that had lasted for 5 hours after sexual intercourse with his wife. He was diagnosed to have psychogenic type erectile dysfunction and the urologist prescribed sildenafil. He took 50 mg sildenafil on alternative days for past 30 days which produced hard erections that detumesced immediately after intercourse. He was advised by an alternative medicine practitioner to drink 200 ml of pomegranate juice daily to improve the vigor and vitality. After taking pomegranate juice first time along with a dose of 50 mg of sildenafil for the first time, he had an erection within 15 minutes that was sustained even after ejaculation. He was not on any concurrent medications or herbal agents. He denied previous events of priapism, genital trauma, substance abuse, and other chronic illness. Examination showed an engorged, edematous, erect penis with tense and tender corpus cavernosa sparing the corpus spongiosum and glans. The testis and the prostate were normal.

Complete blood count, blood chemistries including liver function test, and coagulation profile were within normal limits. No dysmorphic red blood cells were seen on microscopic examination. Aspiration of cavernosa yielded a dark blood and analysis of the aspirate confirmed a venous composition of pH of 6.90, PCO 2 of 65 mmHg, and PO 2 of 15 mmHg, which were consistent with low-flow priapism. His priapism was refractory to analgesics, ice packing, and subcutaneous terbutaline. Hence, epinephrine along with 2% lidocaine was injected into each corpus after aspiration of venous blood. Total detumescence occurred within 15 minutes. The patient was discharged uneventfully and was instructed not to drink pomegranate juice while on sildenafil. He continues to use sildenafil 50 mg, which produces erections that subside immediately after orgasm.

Cases 2 and 3

Two brothers of a same family aged 35 and 27, who were married and healthy and did not take any medications presented to the emergency room with 8 hours history of priapism. They consumed sildenafil 50 mg occasionally in order to increase their orgasm. Incidentally, they were advised by practitioner of naturopathy to drink freshly prepared POM juice. On the day of concomitant use of POM juice with sildenafil 50 mg, they had erections that did not detumesced. There was no previous history of priapism or other risk factors. Laboratory studies were within normal limits. On examination, the corpora cavernosa were rigid and tender with soft corpus spongiosum and glans. Detumescence was achieved within 10 minutes following an intracavernous injection of epinephrine along with 2% lidocaine (as an anesthetic). The response was soon probably because it was a drug-induced priapism and not due to associated/underlying pathological causes. They were counseled not to use sildenafil as an aphrodisiac agent. On follow-up at 3 months, they reported normal erections with no further episodes of priapism.

   Discussion Top

After oral administration, sildenafil is rapidly absorbed and the bioavailability reaches around 40% only due to extensive first-pass metabolism. This is also influenced by age of the patient and liver and kidney function. Warrington et al. reported that about 79% of the intrinsic clearance of sildenafil is attributable to cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4 and remaining to CYP2C9. [5] The pharmacokinetic properties of sildenafil predispose it to drug interactions. Laboratory studies have shown that POM juice inhibits key cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved in sildenafil metabolism similar to grape juice. [6] Based on the circumstantial evidence in our patient who had a previously well-controlled sexual activity without changes in dosage, the concomitant intake of POM juice might have resulted in priapism by inhibition of CYP3A4-mediated first-pass metabolism and increased the bioavailability of the drug as observed by Lee et al.[7] It is also possible that the inherent antioxidant properties of POM juice might have enhanced the bioavailability of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) levels and acted directly on the endothelium as reported by Ignarro and colleagues. [8] In addition, an additive or synergistic effect between sildenafil and POM juice might have also contributed for priapism. Occurrence of priapism with concomitant use of POM juice and sildenafil among the brothers (case 2 and 3) of the same family indicate the probability of genetic predisposition. Rechallenge could not be done as these patients refused. However, further studies are needed to confirm or refute these issues in indigenous medical practice. POM juice has been recommended in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. [9] An effect of grapefruit juice on the pharmacokinetics of sildenafil was documented earlier. [10] Many drug interactions are a result of inhibition or induction of CYP enzymes. [11] The limitations of this report being lack of rechallenge and non-estimation of serum sildenafil level.

   Conclusion Top

This report highlights on the interaction of POM juice with sildenafil and the development of low-flow priapism, an emergency which requires immediate attention to alleviate complications and minimize the risk of impotence. We also suggest that patients taking sildenafil should be aware of this potential interaction and warned about concurrent use in future. In the meantime, the manufacturers should be advised to include this in patient information leaflet. Also, clinicians and practitioners should be aware of this interaction while treating and prescribing sildenafil.

   References Top

1.Boyce EG, Umland EM. Sildenafil citrate: A therapeutic update. Clin Ther 2001;23:22-3.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Krenzelok EP. Sildenafil: Clinical toxicology profile. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 2000;38:645-51.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Adhikary S, Sinha M, Chacko KN. Sildenafil induced priapism. Indian J Urol 2006;22:146-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
  Medknow Journal  
4.Available form: http://www.ciao.co.uk/Pomegreat_Pomegranate_Juice_Drink__Review_5568279 [Last Accessed on 2010, December 27].  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Warrington JS, Shader RI, von Moltke LL, Greenblatt DJ. In vitro biotransformation of sildenafil (Viagra): Identification of human cytochromes and potential drug interactions. Drug Metab Dispos 2000;28:392-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Nagata M, Hidaka M, Sekiya H, Kawano Y, Yamasaki K, Okumura M, et al. Effects of pomegranate juice on human cytochrome P450 2C9 and tolbutamide pharmacokinetics in rats. Drug Metab Dispos 2007;35:302-5.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Lee M, Min DI. Determination of sildenafil citrate in plasma by high-performance liquid chromatography and a case for the potential interaction of grapefruit juice with sildenafil citrate. Ther Drug Monit 2001;23:21-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Ignarro LJ, Byrns RE, Sumi D, de Nigris F, Napoli C. Pomegranate juice protects nitric oxide against oxidative destruction and enhances the biological actions of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide 2006;15:93-102.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Forest CP, Padma-Nathan H, Liker HR. Efficacy and safety of pomegranate juice on improvement of erectile dysfunction in male patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction: A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study . Int J Impot Res 2007;19:564-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Jetter A, Kinzig-Schippers M, Walchner-Bonjean M, Hering U, Bulitta J, Schreiner P, et al. Effects of grapefruit juice on the pharmacokinetics of sildenafil. Clin Pharmacol Ther 2002;71:21-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Badyal DK, Dadhich AP. Cytochrome P450 and drug interactions. Indian J Pharmacol 2001;33:248-59.  Back to cited text no. 11
  Medknow Journal  

This article has been cited by
1 Food–Drug Interactions with Fruit Juices
Zvonimir Petric, Irena Žuntar, Predrag Putnik, Danijela Bursac Kovacevic
Foods. 2020; 10(1): 33
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Reports

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded633    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal