Can COVID-19 cause erectile dysfunction? A team of researchers has found traces of the virus in penile tissue long after patients’ recovery.
For them to study, published in the World Journal of Men’s Health, the researchers collected penis tissue from four men who received penile prosthesis surgery for erectile dysfunction (ED). Two of them had been infected with COVID-19 while the other two had not. Among the infected men, one had been hospitalized, but the other showed only mild symptoms.
They collected samples to check for traces of COVID-19 virus and also for endothelial dysfunction.
“Endothelial dysfunction is a condition in which the lining of small blood vessels does not perform all of its functions normally,” said the Miller University School of Medicine at the University of Miami. explained in a press release. “As a result, the tissues supplied by these vessels could be damaged.”
The researchers found traces of COVID-19 in the penis tissue of men with a history of the disease. They found evidence of endothelial dysfunction only in participants with a history of COVID-19 infection. It had been six to eight months since the men were infected.
“Our study is the first to demonstrate the presence of COVID-19 virus in the penis long after the initial infection in humans,” the researchers wrote. “Our results also suggest that widespread endothelial cell dysfunction due to COVID-19 infection may contribute to ED.”
The results suggest that endothelial dysfunction of COVID-19 may lead to erectile dysfunction, with the presence of the virus in the tissue of the penis worsening the disease.
“Our research shows that COVID-19 can cause widespread endothelial dysfunction in organ systems beyond the lungs and kidneys,” said Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, co-author of the study and director of the Miller School Reproductive Urology Program. “The underlying endothelial dysfunction that occurs due to COVID-19 can enter endothelial cells and affect many organs, including the penis.”
The results match others to study published earlier this year, where it was found that men with a history of COVID-19 were six times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction. In the study, titled “Masking to Keep It, Preliminary Evidence of the Association between Erectile Dysfunction and COVID-19,” the researchers analyzed 100 samples and found a “significantly higher” prevalence of erectile dysfunction in the group of men they had tested positive for COVID-19.
Even in 2020, the experts had warned that even mild COVID-19 can cause long-term erectile dysfunction problems.
“These latest findings are another reason why we should do everything possible to avoid COVID-19,” said Eliyahu Kresch, a medical student and first author of the current study.
(This story first appeared on IBTimes.com. Read it here.)