A recent study published in the World Journal of Men’s Health may have discovered a link between the COVID-19 virus and erectile issues. The study, conducted by scientists and researchers at the University of Miami, discovered for the first time that traces of the virus could be found in penile tissue.
The most concerning part of the discovery was that these traces were found long after recovery, suggesting the virus may remain active in mens’ genitals for several months. Researchers are concerned that this could possibly cause future erectile dysfunction (ED) or other issues.
“Our research shows that COVID-19 can cause widespread endothelial dysfunction in organ systems beyond the lungs and kidneys. The underlying endothelial dysfunction that happens because of COVID-19 can enter the endothelial cells and affect many organs, including the penis,” noted study author Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, who is an associate professor and director of the Miller School’s Reproductive Urology Program. “In our pilot study, we found that men who previously did not complain of erectile dysfunction developed pretty severe erectile dysfunction after the onset of COVID-19 infection.”
For the study, Ramasamy and his team collected penile tissue samples from two men who’ve had penile prosthesis surgery for ED and also previously had COVID. One man got very ill from the virus and was hospitalized, while the other had only experienced mild symptoms. Penile samples were also taken from two other men who had undergone an ED surgery, except these individuals had never contracted COVID-19.
Both of men who had recovered from COVID-19 showed signs of the virus within their penile tissue — and both also showed signs of endothelial dysfunction, which is widespread blood vessel dysfunction.
“This suggests that men who develop COVID-19 infection should be aware that erectile dysfunction could be an adverse effect of the virus, and they should go to a physician if they develop ED symptoms,” said Ramasamy.
Research has previously suggested that many other conditions may be linked to COVID, such as increased risk of heart disease or neurological symptoms, so unfortunately these findings are not out of line based on what we already know. Ramasamy also said the study revealed evidence that COVID-19 can invade the testicles of some infected men.
“These latest findings are yet another reason that we should all do our best to avoid COVID-19,” adds first author Eliyahu Kresch, a medical student working with Dr. Ramasamy. “We recommend vaccination and to try to stay safe in general.”