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Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on Men’s Health

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By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 02 February 2022, Updated on - 18 October 2022

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Over the last two years, we have become all too familiar with the effects of COVID-19 on our lungs and other vital organs. However, with each passing day, scientists are shedding more light on the long-term impact of SARS-CoV-2 virus on the different parts of the human body. As it turns out, the disease can also adversely affect the health and functioning of male sexual organs. 

Research suggests that men who survive COVID-19 may be at a higher risk of erectile dysfunction and other reproductive health issues. The article explores the impact of COVID-19 on male sexual health in detail. 

How Does COVID-19 Affect Male Sexual Health?

Emerging scientific evidence points to three factors that can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction in men who have had COVID-19: 

Effects on the cardiovascular system and blood circulation 

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is known to cause severe inflammation in the body, which is in fact, a defensive response of the immune system to the viral infection. Sometimes, this defensive response does more harm than good, as it facilitates the formation of small blood clots and triggers inflammation in the lining of the blood vessels and heart muscles. These two complications come together to impede the flow of blood to the penis—one of the primary factors in achieving and maintaining an erection. 

COVID-19 can also worsen pre-existing cardiovascular conditions such as heart inflammation and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Some medicines used to treat these heart ailments, such as beta-blockers, can also lead to erectile dysfunction as a side effect. 

Recommended read: Post COVID-19 recovery, should you get a heart check-up?

Damage to Penile Tissue and Testicles

COVID-19 can also cause damage to the penile tissue and testicles. According to a study published in the World Journal of Men’s Health, researchers found SARS-CoV-2 particles in the penile tissue samples of two COVID-19 survivors who became impotent a few months after getting infected. Scientists suspect that the virus may lead to penile tissue fibrosis (scarring of the penile tissue) in the long run. 

Another hypothesis suggests that COVID-19 may trigger a decline in the testosterone levels in the body. Researchers have observed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus binds itself to a protein that is prevalent in testicles, the site of testosterone production in men. It is suspected that the virus disrupts the testosterone production in the testicles, thus increasing the likelihood of erectile dysfunction and poor libido.

Psychological Impact 

There is a strong correlation between mental health and sexual activity. The stress, anxiety and depression caused by illness and the pandemic in general, can potentially lead to low libido. As these emotions intensify with successive waves of the pandemic, more men might become susceptible to sexual dysfunction. 

Recommended read: How to improve mental health during COVID-19

Is It Possible to Reduce the Risk of Sexual Dysfunction from COVID-19?

Scientists are still trying to understand the long-term complications of the COVID-19.  Further research is needed to acquire a better understanding of the disease, including its negative effects on male sexual and reproductive health. Till then, it is advisable to get vaccinated and follow COVID-19 appropriate behavior to reduce the risk of infection. 

Worried about your risk of erectile dysfunction after COVID-19? 

Consult a COVID-19 Expert


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