In a new study, researchers from Turkey have found that coronavirus infection along with the burdening mental health effects of the pandemic has led to a rise in erectile dysfunction in men
In a new study, researchers from Turkey have found that coronavirus infection along with the burdening mental health effects of the pandemic has led to a rise in erectile dysfunction in men.
In fact, a number of studies have found that COVID-19 could have a significant effect on the male reproductive organs that can impact overall sexual health and cause erectile dysfunction.
According to a report by The Print, the researchers from Turkey found that dysfunction of the membranes that line blood vessels and direct testicular damage as well as the burdening mental health effects of the pandemic, have led to a rise in erectile dysfunction.
Let’s find out more about the study that suggests COVID infection could lead to increased cases of erectile dysfunction and what are the other studies on the issue:
What is erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and sustain an erection for and during sex.
ED or impotence can be caused by various physical conditions, including diseases, hormonal imbalances, as well as psychological factors. It is often a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment and a risk factor for heart disease.
Clogged blood vessels, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, certain prescription medicines, tobacco use, and alcoholism can also be attributed for erectile dysfunction.
Since the brain plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, a number of things can also interfere with sexual wellbeing and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions can add to the causes behind erectile dysfunction.
What do the studies say
According to The Print report, which cites the study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research last month, erectile dysfunction can also be induced by auto-immune responses, such as from inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease and psoriasis, among others.
These auto-immunice reponses produce proteins that modulate immune response called cytokines, such as TNF-α and IL-6, which are known to worsen sexual dysfunction.
The body also releases cytokines during a COVID-19 infection.
In research studies, viral RNA has been detected in the endothelial cell surfaces. Endothelium are the membranes that line blood vessels. The virus then binds to ACE2 receptors which is used for signalling between cells and systems.
A disruption in signalling from the cells of the penis leads to endothelial dysfunction.
Another study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, found remnants of the COVID-19 virus in the lungs, prostrate, penis and testicles of rhesus macaque monkeys.
The researchers discovered that even though the infection in lungs started to clear out after 14 days, it increased in the monkeys’ testicles. Blood vessels in the genitalia were also found to be damaged.
According to The Print, another study in 2021 also found that in a limited sample size of just two infected men, and two healthy men for controls, there were observable viral particles and RNA in the blood vessels in the penis.
A survey conducted by Chinese researchers focussed on the sexual life and sexual function of Chinese adult men during the pandemic.
It found that during the COVID-19 epidemic, decreased sexual function was present in a certain proportion of adult men, and the risk factors included increased anxiety and depression, and decreased frequency of sexual life.
According to a report by the Financial Express, a study in the Journal of Andrology found that men who have had COVID were 5.6 times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction, while another study from the University of Florida published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation found that men who have had COVID-19 were 3.3 times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction.
A study in the World Journal of Men’s Health found that the COVID-19 virus was still found in men’s penises who were infected six to eight months ago.
With inputs from agencies