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New Study Ties COVID-19 To Erectile Dysfunction

The University of Florida Health study found that men who’ve had the coronavirus are more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction than those who haven’t.
The University of Florida Health study found that men who’ve had the coronavirus are more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction than those who haven’t. Photo Credit: Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Those having a hard time masking up might take note of a new study that draws a connection between COVID-19 and erectile dysfunction, researchers say.

The University of Florida Health study found that men who’ve had the coronavirus are more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction than those who haven’t.

The researchers said they arrived at that figure after adjusting for other factors -- among them, diabetes, obesity, smoking and cardiovascular or respiratory disease.

“The receptor that the coronavirus binds to is abundant on the penis and testes,” said Joseph Katz, D.M.D., a professor in the UF College of Dentistry’s department of oral and maxillofacial diagnostic sciences who led the study. “The virus can bind to those areas.”

The coronavirus can reduce the amount of testosterone that’s 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 ED is “compelling,” says a previous study published in Sexual Medicine Reviews last year and involving, among others, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of California.

Before either of those studies were published, Italian physicians and endocrinologists posited that an hyperinflammatory “cytokine storm” caused by the coronavirus can create cardiac problems, blood clotting and other after-effects that could produce ED.

The Italian physicians suggested an even greater possible link of ED to those stricken with “long-haul” COVID-19, which leaves some of those who’ve recovered from the virus with lingering symptoms.

This has only hardened the resolve of those who believe ED is yet another of COVID’s many vexing symptoms.

After all, influenza has been linked to not only to erectile dysfunction but to reduced testosterone production, noted Kevin J. Campbell, M.D., an assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine’s Department of Urology.

Blood flow is restricted by the damage that COVID-19 does to blood vessels – hence, a connection, some reseachers say.

That link could be even greater than what was found in the UF study, proponents say, because the perceived stigma of ED could make some men less ardent than others to share such information.

Many have been fine with sharing, including a writer who recently reached out to a sex-advice podcast and spoke of having experienced ED after being hospitalized with the coronavirus.

Not only that, he said: His penis had shrunk an inch and a half, as well.

Some say men are less inclined than women to mask up or get vaxxed, in part because they are less likely in general to take preventive health measures. Whether this new information will make any difference is anyone’s guess.

The researchers themselves conceded that they didn’t have complete medical histories on the group that was studied. In the end, slightly less than 5% of men in the sample were diagnosed with ED following COVID, they said.

More research is needed, they agree.

The UF Study: https://biostat.ufl.edu/

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