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This Could "Multiply" Your Risk of ED, New Study Shows

Another good reason to wear a mask.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab
Sad man sitting on a bed, girlfriend in the background.

A new study has found that COVID-19 can have a particularly distressing side effect, particularly in younger men: erectile dysfunction. The study, published Mar. 20 in the journal Andrology, found that men with a history of COVID-19 were almost six times more likely to develop ED. Read on to see if you're at risk—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss this urgent news: Here's How You Can Catch COVID Even If You're Vaccinated.

COVID And ED May Go Hand in Hand, Say Researchers

"When offered, men should have the COVID vaccination. It also gives a whole new meaning to wearing the mask — mask up to keep it up," said the study's lead author, Dr. Emmanuele A. Jannini, a professor of endocrinology, andrology and sexual medicine at the University of Rome. 

Researchers found that men who had COVID-19 were more likely to develop erectile dysfunction, and the average age of men affected was 33, CTV News reported. Conversely, men with ED were more likely to contract COVID-19. 

"It's a two-way association: if you have erectile dysfunction, you are more likely to have COVID-19, and conversely … people who have had COVID-19 seem to have a greater chance of developing erectile dysfunction," said Dr. Luc Valiquette, a professor in the department of surgery at the University of Montreal. 

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How Can COVID Cause ED?

Scientists think erectile dysfunction may be caused by the coronavirus doing damage to blood vessels, including those that provide blood flow to the penis. The virus is known to cause hyperinflammation throughout the body, potentially leading to widespread problems with the vascular system. ED as a side effect can take some time to surface, and Valiquette warned that six months to a year from now, doctors may be seeing men with long-term erectile damage. 

"Problems with taste or smell are immediate. People notice it right away," said Valiquette. "People who are in the hospital in intensive care, or when they're on a ventilator, they don't talk about their erectile dysfunction problem because they're not in a situation where they're going to notice it."

As for men with ED having a greater risk of catching COVID, the two diseases share several risk factors, including obesity and high blood pressure.

"There have been studies showing that perhaps there are cardiovascular effects and other medical effects appearing from COVID-19, but the answer is that it's just too early to tell what exactly all of the long-term effects are," said Dr. Ryan Berglund, a urologist with the Cleveland Clinic, who was not involved in the study. "We know there are a number of different ways that the virus could cause erectile dysfunction, but much more research is needed before we know for sure."

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How to Survive This Pandemic

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.