Covid can infect penis tissue and cause impotence, scientists claim
Covid can cause men who get infected with the virus to become impotent, scientists found in the latest long-term side-effect connected to the disease.
Researchers discovered Covid-19 in penile tissue – that could lead to erectile dysfunction.
A new study is the first to show that the virus can stay in the penis long after men have recovered from the disease.
Covid has also been found in the testicles of infected men and could affect fertility and even be sexually transmitted, scientists warned.
The widespread blood vessel dysfunction, known as endothelial dysfunction, that results from the Covid-19 infection could contribute to erectile dysfunction, scientists said.
Endothelial dysfunction is a condition in which the lining of the small blood vessels of an organ fail to perform all of its functions normally meaning the tissues supplied by those vessels can become damaged.
Ranjith Ramasamy, a study author and associate professor and director at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Reproductive Urology Program, said Covid can cause this problem in many organs – including the penis.
He added: ‘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.
‘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.’
Dr Ramasamy and his colleagues collected penile tissue from two men with a history of Covid-19 infection who underwent penile prosthesis surgery.
One of the men was in hospital with Covid, while the other patient only had mild symptoms when he contracted the virus.
The researchers also gathered tissue from two other men with no history of having Covid-19 undergoing the same surgery for erectile dysfunction.
The investigators analysed all the tissue samples for not only evidence of the virus but also endothelial dysfunction.
They found Covid was in the penile tissue of both men who had been infected, but not in the men with no history of the virus.
The men had been infected six and eight months before the study, the experts said.
These men had evidence of endothelial dysfunction, while the men who had been free of the virus did not, the researchers found.
Dr Ramasamy said: ‘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.”
The authors theorised that similar to other Covid-related complications, widespread infection and subsequent endothelial dysfunction could result in erectile dysfunction, and that worsening of the condition could be due to the virus’s presence in the penile tissue itself.
In a previously published study, Dr Ramasamy and Miller School colleagues found that the virus can also invade testis tissue in some men who are infected, which might be the first step in understanding the it’s potential impact on male fertility and whether Covid can be sexually transmitted.
First author Eliyahu Kresch, a medical student working with Dr Ramasamy, said: ‘These latest findings are yet another reason that we should all do our best to avoid Covid-19. We recommend vaccination and to try to stay safe in general.’
The study was recently published in the World Journal of Men’s Health.
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