In previous blogs, we’ve discussed the increased risk men face when it comes to COVID-19. From the behavioral to the chromosomal, it seems men are being hit particularly hard by the pandemic that defined the year 2020. But how much further have scientists probed into COVID-19’s impact on men’s health? Can surviving COVID lead to long term effects on your sex life, or even cause ED?
Unfortunately, recent studies suggest that the answer is “yes.” For a number of reasons, experts in the field are beginning to find that long and short-term symptoms of COVID-19 -- as well as the after-effects of the disease -- can lead to erectile dysfunction in men. The team at ZestED wants all of our patients to understand the seriousness of the virus, so we’ve compiled four reasons why researchers believe COVID can lead to ED:
Your Vascular System Affects Your Erections
We’ve frequently discussed the ways in which the health of your erections is dependent on the health of your vascular system. If your blood flow through the rest of your body is compromised by the effects of a disease or condition, the blood flow through your penis -- essential to achieving an erection -- will be affected as well. COVID-19 causes hyperinflammation in every part of the body, but particularly in the heart and the muscles that surround it. If this compromises your vascular system, the blood supply to your penis may become narrow, or even blocked entirely. COVID researchers are also beginning to see potential long-term effects on the vascular system caused by the virus, including an increased risk of blood clots and lasting heart damage that can make erections difficult even after you’ve made a full recovery.
Mental Health is Important to Sexual Health
If you’re struggling with mental health during the pandemic, and if you’ve noticed its impact on your sex life, you’re hardly alone. But mental health isn’t just mind over matter when it comes to healthy sex: common struggles such as anxiety, depression, low mood, and high stress can all have physical ramifications on your reproductive system, including erectile dysfunction. This is true whether you have or have had the virus, or if you’re just struggling with the life-altering changes that have occurred in your world as a result of isolation and other efforts to curb COVID. This isn’t something you should have to deal with by yourself, and it’s certainly not something to ignore or sweep under the rug -- the ZestED team has discussed men’s mental health during the pandemic in previous blogs, and we always encourage our patients to reach out to our Care Coordinators for guidance if they’re having a hard time emotionally. Here, it’s also important to look at the long-term effects researchers have begun to see: there’s a possibility that having COVID-19 could permanently alter your brain, causing neurological damage that may last long periods of time after recovery.
Potential Testicular Damage Concerns Scientists
One of the lesser-researched but no less concerning potential effects of COVID-19 on men’s health is the potential for testicular damage following an infection with the virus. Some patients have actually been infected by COVID in the tissues of their testes, causing testicular pain and inflammation that can lead to lasting alterations in the area. Researchers aren’t sure yet whether this damage is permanent or if this symptom will affect fertility in the long run, but it’s certainly something to be aware of, and the field of men’s health is continuing to look into the possibilities.
An Unhealthy Body Won’t Have Healthy Sex
Our final correlation between COVID-19 and erectile dysfunction is potentially the most important one: if the rest of your body is unwell, your reproductive system -- including your penis -- will reflect unwellness, too. This may seem pretty obvious: who wants to have sex when they feel sick? But the implications of ED on your overall health continue beyond the time period when you’re actually feeling the symptoms of COVID. Researchers and physicians are all still learning about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the body. We’ve discussed the potential effects of COVID on the heart and vascular system in the long term, but COVID can also have devastating effects on the lungs and kidneys long after you’ve made your recovery. If you’ve had the virus, suffered through the symptoms, recovered, and are still having difficulty maintaining an erection after a significant amount of time, this is a huge red flag for underlying issues that need to be brought to your doctor’s attention as soon as possible.
Remember: COVID-19 symptoms can go on for months, so don’t wait to talk to a men’s health specialist as well as your primary care physician. If you think you may be struggling with ED after COVID-19, or you have concerns about how the virus may affect you specifically as a man, reach out to the team at ZestED. Our specialized men’s health Care Coordinators will discuss your concerns with you one-on-one, offering individualized advice that is tailored to your goals.
Don’t hesitate to visit our website and reach out to our men’s health specialists with any of your concerns, including the effects of COVID-19. Stay safe, stay well, and Get ZestED today!