Tuesday 08 March 2022

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There have been a number of recent studies that show that COVID can have a significant impact on erectile dysfunction. The latest study from last week suggests why this may be happening.

COVID cases are declining across the country and in Rhode Island. The number of hospitalizations in Rhode Island fell below 100 for the first time in more than six months.

But in the past two years, more than 100,000 Rhode Island men have been infected with COIVD.

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What was seen?

The full implications and damages of COVID infection are not yet fully known. The virus was only identified a little over two years ago, and more is being learned every day. Studies on the impact of COVID infection on reproductive organs are only now coming out.

Several recent studies have documented an increased incidence of erectile dysfunction and impotence in men who have had COVID. A study published last month in Sexual Medicine of 246,990 men infected with COVID found a significant increase in the new onset of erectile dysfunction. Men who had COVID had a 20% higher rate of erectile dysfunction than those who were not infected.

Urologists United found that men who have had COVID are six times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than those who have not been infected.

Another study from the Journal of Andrology found that men who had COVID were 5.6 times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction. The study also looked at men who had erectile dysfunction and found that they were 5.2 times more likely to have had a previous COVID infection.

A University of Florida study published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation found that men who have had COVID are 3.3 times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction.

A study published in the World Journal of Men’s Health found that even six to eight months after COVID infection, the virus was still present in men’s penises.

A large meta-analysis in the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews found 60 studies documenting the development of erectile dysfunction in men after COVID infection.

A clinical account from Healthy Male in Australia even reported that in addition to causing erectile dysfunction, COVID infection can decrease the size (“shrink”) of the erect penis.

Why does this happen?

It may not be obvious why what appears to be a respiratory disease would affect the genitals so badly. As with many things involving COVID, the facts are more complicated.

The COVID virus enters the body through the lungs and causes severe lung damage. However, after entering our body, the main target of the virus is our blood vessels, the vascular system.

Many studies have now shown that the COVID virus causes us its greatest damage by attacking our blood vessels, both by causing clots and the damage resulting from such thrombosis, and by directly attacking the lining of our blood vessels, called endothelium.

So the COVID virus goes wherever there are blood vessels – that is, everywhere in our body, in all of our organs and tissues. Studies have shown that the virus persists in our bodies long after the first symptoms of infection have disappeared, for up to seven months and beyond.

Tissues and organs particularly rich in blood vessels are most damaged by COVID infection, especially the brain and heart.

Blood vessels are also very important and are found in high density in the penis. When a man gets an erection, it’s not caused by muscles, wires, or porn pictures on the internet. An erection occurs when blood flows into the vessels of the penis and fills them, like a balloon filled with fluid. Any damage to these blood vessels can interfere with the ability to get or keep an erection. Damage caused by the COVID virus to the inner lining of penile blood vessels impairs blood flow, making it harder to erect – and thus causing erectile dysfunction, impotence and testicular pain.

The latest report, submitted last week to the journal Northwestern Medicine, specifically studied and confirmed that the COVID virus infects the penis, testicles, prostate, and associated blood vessels, early in infection and in high concentrations.

“The signal that jumped out at us was full spread through the male genital tract, said Dr. Thomas Hope, lead researcher and professor at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.

There is still so much unknown about COVID. But it is clear that the virus will continue to surprise us, usually in unpleasant ways. The latest findings that COVID can cause erectile dysfunction are another reminder of the risks of not taking the virus seriously enough, of trying to declare victory and “moving on” too soon. Underestimating the dangers of COVID has a habit of going wrong for us, with unimaginable long-term consequences.

As Neil DeGrasse Tyson said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether you believe it or not.”

Nick Landekic is a retired scientist and biotechnology executive with over 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

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