More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, medical experts are still discovering the infection’s long-term effects on our health. For men, this includes erectile dysfunction (ED), as men with COVID-19 have been found to be three times more likely to be diagnosed with ED.
As men’s health experts, Mike Hsieh, MD, and our team have been following this development closely, and here’s what we know so far.
At its core, COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, but its behavior in your body can extend well past your airways. For example, the receptors to which COVID-19 binds are found in abundance on your penis and testicles. When the virus binds to these receptors, they may decrease your production of testosterone.
This decrease in testosterone not only leaves men more vulnerable to developing serious illness, it can also have an effect on your sexual function, as your testosterone also regulates your libido.
To achieve and maintain an erection, your blood vessels need to be in good shape, as this allows for the needed blood flow to your penis.
Researchers have found that many people who’ve had COVID-19 have particles of the virus in their endothelial tissues, which are thin membranes that line your heart and blood vessels. One report suggests that the presence of the virus in these tissues may lead to, “endothelial dysfunction and the SARS-CoV-2 corrupting the physiological pathways involved in the regulation of erection.”
It’s also possible that a COVID-19 infection can exacerbate other cardiovascular issues that are associated with ED, such as hypertension and cholesterol issues.
Another contributing factor to the rise in ED as related to COVID-19 may be psychological. Time spent in isolation, fear and anxiety during the pandemic, mental and physical fatigue after an infection — these are all issues that can take a toll on your mental health and result in sexual dysfunction.
Another issue we’ve found is that, during the pandemic, access to healthcare was limited, which means that conditions that can contribute to ED were left unaddressed.
As new research continues to emerge about the complications of COVID-19, we can do our part here by addressing your ED. After an extensive evaluation and a health review, we can devise a plan that will restore your sexual function.
To learn more about COVID-19 and ED or to seek expert treatment for your ED, contact our office in La Jolla, California, to set up an appointment.