The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly shaped people’s daily lives. Not only has this virulent strain exacerbated economic and social climates, but it has also had a detrimental effect on people’s health in ways previously unseen.
COVID-19 is a disease triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes an infection in a person’s respiratory organs, including the nose, sinuses, upper throat, and lungs. This virus commonly causes mild respiratory illness, with symptoms such as fever, coughing, and a runny nose. This usually resolves itself after about a week.
However, in some cases, COVID-19 can also lead to a significant decline in sexual function, and consequently, lead to problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED).
ED is a condition that affects a man’s ability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. It’s a common sexual dysfunction in men, projected to affect 322 million men globally by 2025. It can be caused by multiple factors, including psychological issues, physical problems, and certain medications.
Let’s take a closer look at the link between erectile dysfunction, COVID and sex.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Before delving into the connection between ED and sexual and reproductive health, it’s important to recognize the variance of symptoms COVID-19 can cause to an individual.
Symptoms and signs of COVID-19 can vary considerably, including common symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Muscle pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
In some cases, rarer symptoms may also be experienced, such as:
- Anosmia (loss of smell)
- Ageusia (loss of taste)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rashes and skin changes
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
Most cases are mild, especially among people under the age of 60, and often resolve within two to three weeks. It’s also worth noting that many people infected with the virus may experience no symptoms at all.
That said, if it persists, see a doctor to treat moderate to severe illnesses, such as difficulty breathing, chest pains and pneumonia.
What Does the Research Say?
According to a recent study, men who have been infected with COVID-19 have a higher incidence of sexual dysfunction, among general health concerns.
While not all male COVID-19 survivors are fated to have diminished sexual arousal—as everyone can have different experiences with the virus—it’s prevalent enough to become a topic that many doctors and medical researchers are actively learning more about.
And, it turns out, multiple studies support the notion that COVID-19 and male sexual function are linked together.
- In a self-reported study, men with COVID-19 were six times more likely to have ED than men without the virus.
- A study conducted on Italian men found that erectile dysfunction was a common consequence for male survivors of COVID-19.
- 7% of Thai male patients experienced mild ED following a bout with COVID-19.
- University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researchers found that COVID-19 can linger in erectile tissue, causing blood vessel damage and erectile dysfunction.
The reason behind this association is due to the various overlapping comorbidities that ED and COVID-19 share.
Erectile function is often used as a biomarker for mental and sexual health. And since COVID-19 is a condition that can exacerbate both physical and psychological wellbeing, a negative self-regard in these aspects can consequently lead to erectile difficulties.
Risks of COVID-19 and Its Effects on Sexual Health
Some lingering injuries and conditions caused by COVID-19 have an effect on male sexual organs, which can negatively impact sexual activity.
Below are seven severe health problems that may be caused by COVID-19, which may also raise the likelihood of problems in sexual behavior:
- Endothelial dysfunction: COVID-19 can damage the inner walls of blood vessels, which can disrupt normal vascular functioning. As ED relies on adequate blood flow to the penis, a disruption in this functioning can negatively affect this process.
- Psychological distress: COVID-19 can cause major psychological disorders like anxiety and depression, which may consequently lead to psychogenic ED.
- Hypogonadism: As much as 85% of patients will wound up with low testosterone following a COVID-19 diagnosis, which can cause low libido,
- Respiratory difficulties: Men with respiratory illnesses like COPD are more prone to have reduced erectile function.
- Inflammation: COVID-19-induced inflammation, which is linked with hypertension, diabetes, and obesity,shares similar risk factors to ED.
- Hormonal issues: COVID-19 can cause hormonal imbalances in men. Understanding how to treat hormone issues may be required.
- Stress: A COVID-19 diagnosis can ramp up the stress hormone production, which can consequently also be a source of erectile difficulties.
Men with the following background are more susceptible to developing erectile dysfunction and other health problems:
- Poor physical health
- Poor mental health
- Older age group
- Have underlying health conditions prior to a COVID-19 infection
COVID-19 is a relatively new virus and, as such, there are still many gray areas that science is presently seeking to fully comprehend, especially in the long term.
That said, there’s no better way to protect yourself from the virus than by preventing it from infecting you in the first place.
Here are a few steps you can take to lower your risk of contracting the virus:
- Wear a mask when stepping out to public places
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if you are feeling sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth in public.
- Get vaccinated.
COVID-19 and Erectile Dysfunction: The Bottom Line
Erectile dysfunction is a possible side effect for men who have contracted COVID-19. While research is ongoing to understand the correlation between the two, underlying comorbidities are thought to play a role in the worsening sexual function that some men face post-infection.
If you’re having issues with erectile dysfunction (ED) or premature ejaculation (PE), contact the team at Preferred Men’s Medical Center in Ft. Lauderdale now to schedule an appointment to have a consultation with their experienced and specially trained medical staff. By doing so, you can help reignite your sexual desire and improve your sexual life in the process. We are one of South Florida’s leading men’s clinics providing ED therapy, PE therapy, Acoustic Wave therapy, hormone therapy, and much more.