Effect on semen of patients who have recovered from Covid19
With the Covid vaccination drive being carried out in various countries, there is hope for recovery to near normalcy in the not-too-distant future. However, what will the effect be on patients who have fallen ill with SARS-CoV2 and have now recovered? As we are all aware, the virus is transmitted through human contact via respiratory droplets as well as other routes. The virus has also been detected in saliva, urine, gastrointestinal tract and stool samples. The same cells in the lung tissue which are damaged by the virus are also found in the testicles. Hence, will the semen quality
be impaired in men who have recovered from the disease?
Although research is ongoing, it is still too early to comment on whether or not the semen quality will be impaired in men
who have recovered from SARS-CoV2.
The following observations have been noted on the various tests conducted on persons who have recovered from Covid.
- Covid testing to diagnose patients was done according to WHO guidelines by RT-PCR (real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction) evaluation of pharyngeal and nasal swabs.
- Semen samples were taken from men from 11 days upto 9 weeks after testing positive for Covid. The same were matched age-wise with samples from Covid negative men. The total sperm number (TSN) ejaculated was lower in the Covid positive men. However, there was no Covid viru RNA (ribonucleic acid as its genetic material) detected in the first group of patients.
- In another test, semen samples were recovered from various categories of men – some from Covid ex-patients 1 to 8 weeks after recovery when no symptoms were detected. Some samples were taken from healthy, Covid negative men. A few others were taken from patients with active Covid infection.
- Here again, no RNA virus was detected even in the semen samples from the Covid positive patients. However, the semen samples from the infected men showed an impairment in sperm quality.
- One more study showed that semen samples from patients at the acute stage of infection did have positive SARS-CoV2. A few who were recovering also showed positive results. However, taken age-wise, histories of urogenital disease, periods since onset, hospitalization or clinical recovery from Covid, there was an insignificant difference between negative and positive results.
- Yet another study was conducted on sexually active men who had recovered from Covid. Saliva, semen, pre-ejaculation and post-ejaculation urine were tested for the SARS-CoV2. Female partners were also retested if any specimen was found positive. Some of the men were found to have no sperm count (azoospermia) or low sperm count (oligospermia), relating to the level of the Covid severity. Many of the patients showed high levels of the pro-inflammatory IL-8 (Interleukin 8) which can cause infection/inflammation in the male genital tract. 3 patients tested positive for one of the results (saliva, semen, urine) so the next day, new nasopharyngeal swabs were taken but all were Covid negative.
Conclusion: It is still too early to comment on whether there will definitely be sperm impairment in Covid-recovered patients. However, from tests already done, although the SARS-CoV2 infection was not detected in the semen of most recovered men, the TSN levels seemed to be lower in those persons. Although azoospermia was found in many of the recovered patients, the history of their previous semen quality was not known. In summary, more research needs to be conducted and the data analysed before any conclusions can be made on the long term effect of SARS-CoV2 on semen quality. If you are concerned about your semen quality, contact Andrology Center on +919443793934 to make an appointment to get your sperm DNA Fragmentation test done.