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COVID May Lead to This Surprising Side Effect, Study Finds

Men who had been infected with the coronavirus were six times as likely to report this issue.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

From the earliest days of the pandemic, studies have found that contracting COVID-19 may have far-reaching and chronic symptoms, including fatigue, breathing problems, and neurological effects. But new research indicates COVID may have another long-lasting effect for men: Erectile dysfunction.

Last week, the New York Times reported that "a connection has been reported in hundreds of papers by scientists in Europe and North America, as well as in Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Thailand."

Earlier in the pandemic, Dr. Emmanuele Jannini, a professor of endocrinology and medical sexology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, reported a strong link between erectile dysfunction and COVID-19. He found that men who had been infected with the coronavirus were six times as likely to report impotence as those who hadn't come down with COVID.

"Communicating that the disease can affect your sexual life is a tremendously powerful message," said Jannini. "The evidence is very strong."

"Research from imaging scans and biopsies indicates that the coronavirus can infect tissue within the male genital tract, where it may linger long after the initial infection," the Times reports.

The paper notes that an erection is a complicated thing—which can be affected at many points by the COVID. "Men's erections are more complicated than people think… you need good blood flow, you need the nerves to be firing, and you need good hormone levels, specifically testosterone," said Dr. Justin Dubin. "But you also need to be in a good state of mind, and you also need to be aroused. If any of these things go wrong, you may have an issue getting an erection."

Some researchers say it's possible that erection problems may be caused by the virus's seeming ability to damage blood vessels, which also seems to cause neurological problems like the loss of smell or taste, or the "brain fog," both of which have been reported by people who've contracted COVID since the beginning of the pandemic.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Gave This Important COVID Update

How to Stay Safe Out There

Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more