Those struggling to mask up might take note of a new study that links COVID-19 to erectile dysfunction, researchers say.
The University of Florida Health Study found that men who have had the coronavirus are more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction than those who do not.
The researchers said they arrived at this figure after adjusting for other factors, including diabetes, obesity, smoking, and cardiovascular or respiratory disease.
“The receptor that the coronavirus binds to is abundant on the penis and testicles,” said Joseph Katz, DMD, a professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diagnostic Sciences at UF College of Dentistry who led the study. “The virus can bind to these areas.”
The coronavirus can reduce the amount of testosterone produced, which “has been shown to put someone at risk of having a more severe outcome from COVID-19,” Katz said.
The evidence linking coronavirus infection and erectile dysfunction is “compelling”, according to a previous study published in Sexual Medicine Reviews last year and involving, among others, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of California.
Prior to the publication of either of these studies, Italian doctors and endocrinologists postulated that a hyperinflammatory ‘cytokine storm’ caused by the coronavirus can create heart problems, blood clotting and other sequelae. likely to produce erectile dysfunction.
Italian doctors have suggested an even bigger possible link between erectile dysfunction and people with “long-haul” COVID-19, leaving some of those who have recovered from the virus with lingering symptoms.
This has only strengthened the resolve of those who think erectile dysfunction is another of the many vexing symptoms of COVID.
After all, the flu has been linked not only to erectile dysfunction, but also to reduced testosterone production, noted Kevin J. Campbell, MD, assistant professor in the department of urology at UF College of Medicine.
Blood flow is limited by COVID-19’s damage to blood vessels — hence a connection, some researchers say.
This link could be even bigger than what was found in the UF studyproponents say, because the perceived stigma of ED might make some men less eager than others to share such information.
Many agreed to share, including a writer who recently contacted a sex advice podcast and spoke about experiencing erectile dysfunction after being hospitalized with the coronavirus.
Not only that, he said: his penis had also shrunk an inch and a half.
Some say men are less likely than women to mask up or get vaxxed, in part because they’re generally less likely to take preventative health measures. No one knows if this new information will make a difference.
The researchers themselves admitted that they did not have a complete medical history on the group studied. At the end, just under 5% of the men in the sample were diagnosed with erectile dysfunction after COVID, they said.
Further research is needed, they agree.
The UF study: https://biostat.ufl.edu/
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