Covid may increase risk of Erectile Dysfunction
A second wave of the Covid 19 is engulfing us and, with it, more insights are coming to light of the effects of this virus. A recent preliminary study conducted on a group of patients in Italy has shown the possible risk of erectile dysfunction
(ED) in men who have had and recovered from Covid 19. It is also a vice versa situation, as men with ED are more prone to falling prey to the Covid infection.
Erectile function depends on three P’s- psychological, physiological and physical. There should be a psychological desire for arousal. The brain and body need to physiologically release the correct hormones and physically, the penis needs to stand erect. With effects of Covid 19 affecting so many parts of the body, from the skin to blood vessels to levels of testosterone, it could have an effect on ED as well.
ED and endothelial dysfunction (a non obstructive coronary artery disease) are linked. Covid 19 causes inflammatory responses causing restricted blood flow to the heart. This can cause a shortage of blood supply to the penis because of the narrowed blood vessels on the surface of the heart. Consequently, it could result in ED.
Psychological effects: The pandemic has caused a high level of stress, depression, fatigue and anxiety. Sexual activity is sometimes dependent on mood swings and any major stress level can disrupt the normal hormone function which could result in ED.
Health deterioration: There is a greater risk of ED in men with poor health. Also, for the younger and healthier people who suddenly suffer with ED, especially those who have had Covid 19, a general health check up is advised as this could reveal any underlying issues connected with circulation etc. Sometimes the symptoms of Covid 19 are long-term, lasting for months, even in people who previously enjoyed good health. On the other hand, once an illness has passed, testosterone levels sometimes bounce back to normal and, with replacement of hormones and working blood vessels, ED could be a short-term issue.
Testicular damage: Another effect caused by the Covid 19 infection is possible damage to the testicles. More research is required to see if the damage can be temporary, permanent or whether it will affect fertility.
Same risk factors for Covid 19 and ED: Diabetes, age level, smoking and high body mass index (BMI) increase the risk of ED as well as Covid 19.
Conclusion: There is a definite need for additional and deeper research to confirm the risk levels of ED in men who have contracted Covid 19 and recovered. However, initial research has shown that the risk is there. If you do suspect you may be having ED, it is best to contact your Andrologist at the earliest. Hence, it is mandatory to proceed with precaution and care, by taking the vaccine, wearing masks, sanitising, following social distancing and restricting social gatherings. There is no evidence of the Covid 19 vaccine causing ED. The same side effects as those of an annual flu jab are predicted. So, keep yourself safe from Covid 19 and the possible risk of ED as well.