We never knew that the maxim, “We learn something new each day” would apply to the Covid-19 virus as well. A year into the pandemic yet, we wake up to some new piece of information about the Coronavirus. Researchers are still learning about the long-term impacts of Covid-19, and every day they figure out something new.
From Black fungus to Hypoxia, Covid-19 and comorbidities have become increasingly common. One of the latest additions to this list is the link between Covid-19 and Erectile Dysfunction. In the rest of this article, we will be taking a look into this.
A study conducted in Italy was the first to suggest a link between Covid-19 infection and erectile dysfunction. The study was conducted on about 100 sexually active adult males out of which 25 had tested positive for Covid-19 and 75 were negative. The subjects were retrieved from an earlier study named Sex@COVID.
The patients were matched based on their health factors including General Anxiety Disorder Scale, Patient Health Questionnaire, BMI, and more. The study concluded that ED was higher in people who tested positive for Covid-19.
Another record of two men who were infected with Coronavirus was published in The World Journal of Men’s Health. According to this report, coronavirus particles were found in the penile tissues of these men, about six months after infection. To top it off, these men had severe erectile dysfunction and had to undergo penile implant surgeries.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Before we go further let us try to understand what Erectile dysfunction means. Erectile dysfunction is a condition where a man finds it frequently difficult to get or maintain an erection.
When aroused the body pumps blood into the arteries in the penis, this causes the sponge-like tissues in the penis to enlarge, resulting in an erection. If for some reason the blood flow is hampered, then erection may not take place.
Health experts consider Erectile Dysfunction to be indicative of poor overall health. To know more about Erectile Dysfunction check this out.
Why does Covid cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Researchers and health experts suggest that the Erectile Dysfunction observed in Covid-19 recovered men may potentially be due to three factors at large.
Covid-19 has been found to trigger heart health problems. Covid-19 patients and survivors display signs of inflammation in various parts of the body including the heart, blood vessels, and veins. Erectile Dysfunction can occur as a sign of these cardiovascular issues.
Additionally, research suggests that Covid-19 may cause endothelial dysfunction. Endothelial dysfunction occurs when the inner walls of blood vessels stay stiff instead of being flexible. This may hamper the blood flow and can affect various body tissues. A disrupted blood flow to the penis can result in erectile dysfunction.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has been emotionally and psychologically overwhelming for all of us. The sudden restrictions in our daily routine, lockdowns, work-from-homes, and separation from our loved ones have left us with stress, anxiety, and poor overall mental health.
Sexual activity and mental health are closely linked and form a symbiotic relationship. There is a strong mental component in achieving an erection.
The already deteriorated mental health can further be strained in a Covid infected person. Covid deteriorates general health which in turn contributes to deteriorating mental health. This psychological impact of Covid-19 can lead to erectile dysfunction.
To read more about the mental health impacts of Covid-19 click here.
Deteriorated General Health
Ever since the global pandemic started, strict lockdowns meant you couldn’t go out of your houses and that gyms remained shut, which has resulted in the promotion of a sedentary lifestyle.
Many individuals spend long times in front of their laptop screens, occasionally getting up to get a snack, leading to poor overall health.
Poor general health is a cause of concern as men with poor health are at risk of developing ED and more severe Covid-19 symptoms.
Want to know how you can stay healthy during this pandemic? Check this out.
While these factors may be the key contributors to erectile dysfunction due to Covid-19, experts suggest some other reasons as well.
Pneumonia due to Covid-19
Many experts suggest that patients who have experienced Pneumonia from Covid-19 infection can be at a higher risk of developing Erectile Dysfunction.
Pneumonia can cause inflammation in blood vessels resulting in poor blood flow, which can lead to ED. Vascular disease as mentioned above is a key contributor to ED.
While vascular disease is common with other viral diseases, the scale and severity are higher with Covid.
Pneumonia due to Covid also harms blood oxygen levels. The lung damage due to Pneumonia can reduce the ability to get enough oxygen in the blood.
Insufficient oxygen in the blood can affect the ability to maintain an erection and cause erectile dysfunction.
Another possible cause for erectile dysfunction in Covid survivors may be Testicular damage that occurs after infection. However, the data available on this is limited and studies are still going on.
Experts speculate that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may affect the Leydig cells that produce testosterone. Autopsies conducted on people who passed away due to Covid-19 reveal a lower count of Leydig cells.
The drop-in Leydig cells would mean that the Testosterone levels are affected, resulting in decreased libido.
There are numerous ways in which Covid-19 could cause erectile dysfunction, but more research and data are needed to be sure.
Treating Erectile Dysfunction
Covid-19 has already made a huge blow on our daily lives; the added risk of ED might make matters worse especially for those men who were at risk of developing ED. Rather than resorting to the blue pill when you experience ED, first talk to a doctor and explore your options.
In some cases, ED might point to a more serious underlying health problem. Your doctor may prescribe tests and other diagnostics to pinpoint the cause.
Treatment for ED depends on numerous factors including age, overall health, and other underlying issues. That being said, here are some of the treatment options doctors usually recommend,
Unhealthy lifestyle habits are a leading cause of erectile dysfunction. A sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, a ton of added sugar, and mental stress form the perfect combination for disaster. A change in lifestyle habits could help manage erectile dysfunction to an extent.
An unhealthy lifestyle is thought to cause chronic illnesses including diabetes, heart problems, and obesity. These illnesses can also be a contributing factor to ED.
Eating healthy and exercising regularly will help you get into shape and also improve your mental health. Exercising releases endorphins that lift your mood and improve your sleep.
Cut down on sugary and oily foods instead, go for their natural alternatives like fruits and vegetables.
A healthy lifestyle will improve your overall health. What’s more? Studies suggest that people who have a healthy lifestyle tend to be less prone to Covid-19. In case of infections, people who have healthy lifestyles are less likely to develop severe symptoms.
Apart from lifestyle changes, there are various other methods available to treat or manage ED. These include oral medications, vacuum pumps, testosterone replacement therapy, and penile implant surgery.
The use of these methods depends on the severity of the case. Your doctor should look through your health conditions and other factors to chart out the best possible treatment for you.
To know more about Erectile Dysfunction and its treatment methods, check this out.
More data is required
As of now, studies are yet to establish that Covid-19 indeed causes Erectile Dysfunction. Studies so far have only suggested a link between the two.
It is completely possible that ED cases seen can be due to the increased stress levels due to the pandemic as well.
Though there are numerous possibilities that symptoms of Covid-19 can contribute to Erectile Dysfunction, experts insist that we need more data.
Having ED is nothing to worry about and is not indicative of Covid-19. ED is a common problem in men, affecting about 1 in 4 men below the age of forty.
Rumors are going on the internet about Covid vaccines causing infertility and reducing sperm counts. But these claims have no evidence to back them and are probably fake.
Improving your lifestyle can not only keep ED at bay but also better your physical and mental health.
Wear masks, maintain social distancing, and get vaccinated as soon as possible. Mask up to keep it up!