Coronavirus: impotence or erectile dysfunction caused by COVID-19?

Coronavirus: impotence or erectile dysfunction caused by COVID-19?

Whether persistent exhaustion, concentration problems or restricted lung function – the list of well-known late effects that can occur after infection with the coronavirus is long. Now, there could be more consequences for men. A possible connection between COVID-19 and the occurrence of impotence or erectile dysfunction is discussed again and again. Speculations about the potential effects of the coronavirus vaccination on sexuality and fertility also persist. How justified are these assumptions? You can read more about the current state of knowledge and the latest study results here.

Impotence and erectile dysfunction – what is it anyway?

Male impotence and erectile dysfunction (ED) are often used interchangeably in general and medical terminology. In the following, the term impotence is used in the sense of sterility – i.e. when a man (or a woman) is infertile (infertile). Various diseases can trigger impotence. The sexual intercourse itself can usually be carried out and is not affected by the impotence.

Precisely, the opposite is the case with erectile dysfunction: If a man suffers from ED, the erection cannot be maintained or cannot be held long enough to engage in sexual intercourse. ED can be chronic, but it can also occur spontaneously. The most common cause of erectile dysfunction is circulatory disorders, but psychological problems, alcohol abuse or certain medications can also trigger ED.


Coronavirus and impotence – what is behind it?

There is evidence that sperm production can be affected by COVID-19 disease. Therefore, the infection could presumably affect fertility. So far, there have been no comprehensive studies on this subject.

Chinese researchers suspect that sperm production could be impaired by an increased immune response in the testicles or by damage to cells in the testicles. The men examined found an increased number of white blood cells (as a sign of an immune reaction) or degenerated germ cells in the testicles. Overall, however, only 30 people were examined as part of the studies, which is why the significance of the study is limited.

According to experts, however, there is a theoretical possibility that the coronavirus could also infect the cells of the testicles via ACE receptors, with which it docks to the cells. This is referred to as “testicle covid” on social media. There are isolated cases of men who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after testicular pain . SARS-CoV-2 had triggered inflammatory reactions in the testicles.

According to the current state of knowledge, a direct infection of the testicles by the coronavirus is considered to be relatively rare. However, DNA material from the virus could also be found in the testicular tissue with the corresponding symptoms.

Similar consequences are already known from infections with SARS-CoV-1, the Zika virus and mumps. With these diseases, around 20 per cent of those affected experienced impaired sperm production.

The extent to which such an impairment of sperm production persists after COVID-19 disease is still unclear. In addition, both testicles do not always have to be affected by the infection.

Does COVID-19 promote erectile dysfunction?

There is currently little data on a potential connection between COVID-19 disease and the occurrence of erectile dysfunction in men. However, doctors are repeatedly reporting cases of ED that have occurred in connection with a coronavirus infection. The symptoms appear more often after severe or moderate courses and less often after mild ones. US researchers were also able to detect coronavirus particles in tissue samples from the penis. However, only two men were examined who reported erectile dysfunction after being infected with the coronavirus.

A British study also examined possible connections between COVID-19 and the occurrence of erectile dysfunction. She concluded that the following symptoms could promote the development of ED due to an infection with the coronavirus:

  • subclinical hypogonadism, i.e. the decrease in testosterone and sperm production
  • psychological problems caused by the infection
  • Impairment of hemodynamics, i.e. blood flow in blood vessels
  • Verschärfung bestehender kardiovaskulärer Probleme, also von Problemen, die Herz und Gefäße betreffen

Auch die Entzündung von Gefäßen, die im Rahmen einer Coronavirus-Infektion eine Rolle spielen kann, könnte zur Entstehung einer erektilen Dysfunktion beitragen.

If ED occurs, it is treated with phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors. Medical treatment usually leads to an improvement in symptoms. However, long-term data on the treatment of ED after a COVID-19 infection are not yet available.


Impotence due to corona vaccination?

In addition to erectile dysfunction or impotence as possible consequences of a coronavirus infection, there is also a rumor circulating, especially on the Internet, that a corona vaccination can cause impotence.

This theory has already been refuted in a US study: researchers at the University of Miami took sperm samples from 45 healthy men – once before the vaccination and once after receiving the second dose of vaccination. The quality and number of sperm remained unchanged. The study involved vaccination with an  mRNA vaccine . Vector vaccines have not been studied. However, there is so far no evidence that such  corona vaccines  could cause impotence.

There is currently no evidence that the corona vaccination causes erectile dysfunction – ED was not registered as a side effect of the vaccination either in the approval studies or during the current vaccination campaign.

A similar rumor concerns possible infertility in women due to the corona vaccination. This myth is based on the fact that part of the spike protein of the coronavirus, against which the body forms antibodies through vaccination, is supposedly similar to a protein that plays a role in the structure of the placenta.

If this theory were correct, the vaccination would cause an immune reaction to prevent the placenta from forming properly. However, evidence for this assumption is lacking. The similarity between the two proteins is considered to be extremely low, which is why, according to experts, a “confusion” by the  immune system  can be ruled out.

There are also no known complications in women who were vaccinated during  pregnancy  . In addition, infertility as a result of the disease has not yet been found in women who have already been infected with the coronavirus. Since many more spike proteins enter the body as a result of the disease than through vaccination, this effect should be even stronger after a COVID-19 illness, but this is not the case.

Conclusion: Impotence is possible due to Corona, but not due to vaccination

Physical symptoms triggered by an infection with the coronavirus can presumably promote the development of erectile dysfunction. The production of sperm and testosterone levels in the body can also be affected. More precise information about the frequency and duration of such complaints has yet to be available. If ED or impotence is suspected, medical advice should always be sought to enable the best possible treatment.

No scientific evidence exists that the coronavirus vaccine causes impotence in men or women.


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