MIAMI — The COVID-19 virus has confounded and confused the public, doctors, and scientists alike by its ability to infiltrate numerous body parts, areas, and organs. Now, a new study out of Miami is sure to make all male readers shudder for a moment. University of Miami scientists have, for the first time ever, discovered traces of COVID-19 within penile tissue.
Even worse, these traces were discovered long after recovery, suggesting the virus may stay in mens’ genitals for months on end. As if that isn’t enough to leave many a man feeling uneasy, researchers also theorize that the “widespread blood vessel dysfunction” caused by COVID-19 could contribute to erectile dysfunction.
“Our research shows that COVID-19 can cause widespread endothelial dysfunction in organ systems beyond the lungs and kidneys. The underlying endothelial dysfunction that happens because of COVID-19 can enter the endothelial cells and affect many organs, including the penis,” says study author Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, associate professor and director of the Miller School’s Reproductive Urology Program, in a release. “In our pilot study, we found that men who previously did not complain of erectile dysfunction developed pretty severe erectile dysfunction after the onset of COVID-19 infection.”
‘Men who develop COVID-19 should be aware that ED could be adverse effect’
Dr. Ramasamy and his team collected penile tissue samples from two men with a history of COVID infections and had underwent penile prosthesis surgery for ED. One man was hospitalized due to his coronavirus infection, while the other only had mild symptoms. As a control, penile samples were also taken from two other men undergoing an ED surgery, except those two individuals had never contracted COVID-19.
Both men who dealt with COVID-19 showed signs of the virus within their penile tissue. One of those men had recovered eight months prior, while the other had contracted the virus six months ago. Both recovered men also showed signs of endothelial dysfunction (widespread blood vessel dysfunction).
“This suggests that men who develop COVID-19 infection should be aware that erectile dysfunction could be an adverse effect of the virus, and they should go to a physician if they develop ED symptoms,” Dr. Ramasamy suggests.
Just like so many other conditions being linked to COVID, like increased risk of heart disease or neurological symptoms, researchers say the nerve damage caused by the coronavirus may cause ED, or it may only worsen the condition.
Additionally, earlier research involving Dr. Ramasamy reveals evidence that COVID-19 can invade the testicles of some infected men.
“These latest findings are yet another reason that we should all do our best to avoid COVID-19,” adds first author Eliyahu Kresch, a medical student working with Dr. Ramasamy.
“We recommend vaccination and to try to stay safe in general,” Kresch concludes.
The study is published in World Journal of Men’s Health.