Several studies suggest that COVID-19 may be having a negative impact on male sexual function and fertility.
Add this to the list of long-haul symptoms some patients are suffering. In this case, males are more severely impacted than females due to the way the virus is transmitted.
“This is something that we know is happening and those of us in the urology field are seeing more and more patients with erectile dysfunction that started after having COVID,” says Dr. Hossein Sadeghi-Nejad, MD, urologist at Hackensack University Medical Center.
A recap of research shows regarding male sexual function issues:
- 19% of patients in one study presented with scrotal discomfort suggesting virus-induced inflammation around the time of their diagnosis.
- In an Italian survey, respondents self-reported experiencing erectile dysfunction symptoms after a COVID diagnosis – nearly six-fold.
- Studies by scientists in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Thailand indicate that COVID-19 may have increased cases of erectile dysfunction by 20% or more. Some of these studies indicate that months after seemingly recovering from COVID-19 conditions persist, including erectile dysfunction and low sperm counts. Men who had been ill with COVID-19 are reported to be six times more likely to be impotent.
- Additionally, a January 2022 study found that in couples trying to get pregnant, conception was down 18% in the three months after the male partner was infected with COVID-19.
Why does this happen? For many reasons, says Dr. Sadeghi including:
- Fever, known to reduce sperm count and motility, is common during SARS-CoV-2 infection and so could explain the temporary decline in fertility the researchers observed in couples in which the male partner had a recent infection.
- Other possible reasons for a decline in fertility among male partners who recently tested positive could be inflammation in the testes and nearby tissues and erectile dysfunction, all common after SARS-CoV-2 infection.
- Hormonal changes that can disrupt the and alter sperm levels.
- A temporary disruption in the testicles’ ability to properly function and more.
There was no difference in conception rates for couples in which the male partner had tested positive more than 60 days before a cycle, compared to couples in which the male partner had not tested positive.