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Erectile Dysfunction in COVID-19 Survivors

Not wearing a mask: would you bet your sex life on it? Jasmine Belfiore summarises a recent scientific article which draws connections between Covid-19 and erectile dysfunction.



Many people assume that because they are healthy, even if they catch Covid-19 they will be ok - this is not the case! Long term effects of Covid-19 are now starting to be investigated. Worryingly, in male Covid-19 survivors reported accounts of sexual dysfunction are on the rise. Possibly because of how COVID-19 affects the circulatory system and the fact there are high levels of ACE2 in the testes - ACE2 is how COVID-19 gets into your cells. A recent study investigating these cases found that not only is sexual dysfunction affected but also reproductive function in both the short and long term. In an intensive care setting, erectile dysfunction is considered trivial (doctors are working to save your life, not your dick). The best way to avoid complications associated Covid-19 is preventing catching the virus in the first place - through proper use of masks and social protective measures.


Stay safe and mask up!


Background


Covid-19 is well-known to enter host cells via the enzyme ACE2. In men this enzyme is highly expressed in the testes, suggesting testicular infection to be likely in the early stages of the disease.


Aim


To find out if erectile dysfunction (ED) is likely in men with Covid-19.


Study design


Literature search on possible mechanisms involved in the development of ED in Covid-19 survivors.


Results


Endothelial dysfunction, subclinical hypogonadism, psychological distress and impaired pulmonary hemodynamics all contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction. Covid-19 may worsen cardiovascular conditions which increases the chance of developing ED. Reproduction may also be affected.


Conclusions


There is a strong body of evidence suggesting both sexual and reproductive health could be affected in Covid-19 survivors in both the short and long-term.


Limitations


Retrospective data collection


Glossary


Alveoli - sacs of air in the lungs that allow oxygen to enter the bloodstream


Endothelial dysfunction - the inner lining of small arteries does not perform all of its important functions normally


Subclinical hypogonadism - low levels of testosterone and damaged sperm cell production


Pulmonary hemodynamics - changes in blood flow in the lungs


References


Sansone A, Mollaioli D, Ciocca G, et al. 'Addressing male sexual and reproductive health in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak' [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jul 13]. J Endocrinol Invest. 2020;1-9. doi:10.1007/s40618-020-01350-1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32661947/

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