Can COVID-19 lead to erectile dysfunction? A team of researchers found traces of the virus in penile tissue long after patients had recovered.
For their study, published in the World Journal of Men’s Health, the researchers collected penile tissue from four men who had undergone penile prosthesis surgery for erectile dysfunction (ED). Two of them were infected with COVID-19 and the other two were not. One of the infected men was hospitalized and the other had only mild symptoms.
They collected the samples to look for traces of the COVID-19 virus and also for endothelial dysfunction.
“Endothelial dysfunction is a condition in which the lining of small blood vessels does not perform all of its normal functions,” said the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine in a press release. “As a result, the tissues delivered by these vessels could be damaged.”
The researchers found traces of COVID-19 in penile tissue of men with a history of the disease. They found evidence of endothelial dysfunction only in participants with a history of COVID-19 infection. It had been six and eight months since the men were infected.
“Our study is the first to demonstrate the presence of the COVID-19 virus in the penis long after the initial human infection,” the researchers wrote. “Our results also suggest that widespread endothelial cell dysfunction due to COVID-19 infection may contribute to ED.”
The results suggest that endothelial dysfunction from COVID-19 can lead to erectile dysfunction, with the presence of the virus in penile tissues making the condition worse.
“Our research shows that COVID-19 can cause widespread endothelial dysfunction in organ systems beyond the lungs and kidneys,” said Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, co-author and director of the Miller School’s reproductive urology program, in the news release. “The underlying endothelial dysfunction that occurs due to COVID-19 can invade endothelial cells and affect many organs, including the penis.”
The results are in line with another study published earlier this year that found that men with a history of COVID-19 were six times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction. In the study, titled “Mask up to up it up, preliminary evidence of the link between erectile dysfunction and COVID-19,” the researchers analyzed 100 samples and found a “significantly higher” prevalence of erectile dysfunction in the group of men with positive COVID-19 tested.
As early as 2020, experts had warned that even mild COVID-19 can cause long-term problems with erectile dysfunction.
“These latest findings are another reason why we should all do our best to avoid COVID-19,” said Eliyahu Kresch, medical student and lead author of the current study.
(This story first appeared on IBTimes.com. Read the story here.)