The raging pandemic first began affecting our lives in 2020. Back then, very little was known about this new virus. However as time has passed, more has been known about the nature of the virus thanks to increased research.
COVID19’s detrimental impact on the sexual function of men has been studied recently, and it has brought to light new information.
There is a possibility of erectile dysfunction and long-term fertility issues in men post COVID19 infection, and these are the reasons behind it, according to Dr Charu Dutt Arora, Infectious Disease Specialist and Home Care Expert at Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, Faridabad.1. Vascular Effects:
We are aware that COVID-19 has side effects on the vascular system of our body. The virus causes hyper inflammation and oedema (swelling) in the blood vessels that results in altered blood supply, especially to the heart and surrounding muscles.
Since the vascular system and the reproductive system is connected, the narrowing of the blood vessels due to swelling causes decreased blood supply to the penile gland.
The blood supply to the penis is blocked, hence resulting in difficulty in getting an erection. A recent research study that described the endothelial (inner lining) function of the penis in men with COVID as compared to the control group, showed that the symptomatic group had stiffness and blockage in the inner lining that leads to difficulty in blood flow to the penis.2. Mental Wellness
The COVID19 pandemic has had a detrimental effect on most people's mental wellbeing. Stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, depression and mood disorders have increased in the post-COVID phase.
Since sexual health is strongly related to mental wellness, there is an increased number of erectile dysfunction and mood issues in men.3. Underlying Medical Condition
As per a senior urologist from Cleveland Clinic, the inability of keeping a penis firm to perform a sexual activity is an indicator of the underlying health of a man.
Since COVID-19 is known to cause multifaceted symptoms affecting various organ systems, there is an increased incidence of poor sexual health in men with underlying medical conditions.
A study published in the Journal of Andrology (March 2021) showed that men with COVID-19 disease are 5.66 more likely to develop erectile dysfunction. This is just a correlation, not a causal relation.4. Age
Although COVID19 can affect anyone from any age group, the majority of the severe symptoms appear in the older age group (above 60 years).
Since this age group is already associated with multiple comorbidities such as coronary artery disease, hyperlipidemia and depressed respiratory function, this age group is more prone to develop post-COVID blood clotting and cardiac pumping problems that can lead to erectile dysfunction.
We need more studies and extensive research to understand the total extent of the effects of COVID-19 on the male reproductive system. We still don’t know if the sexual health effects are temporary or permanent. However, if anybody experiences such a symptom during their post-COVID phase, they must book a consultation with their COVID expert or Urologist.
Men must mask up, practice physical distancing and get vaccinated as early as it is available to them.