Does COVID-19 lead to impotence?

Coronavirus can cause impotence – this statement was made by doctors from the Chinese city of Wuhan, which until recently was considered the epicenter of the epidemic.

A group of doctors from the Chinese city of Wuhan posted a paper on the medRxiv medical reports portal with the intriguing title “the effect of SARSCoV-2 infection on male gonadal (sexual and reproductive) function”. As you know, SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of coronaviruses that causes the deadly infectious disease COVID-19. During the study, doctors measured the level of sex hormones in 81 patients who had been ill with coronavirus, and in 100 healthy volunteers. It turned out that the testosterone of those infected fell almost 2 times (tests were taken on the eve of discharge, that is, at the stage of recovery). The so-called men’s health index T/LH (testosterone/LH), which normally should be at least 1.5 units, they had only 0.74. Such a low rate is fraught with many problems, primarily erectile dysfunction.

The researchers emphasize that the average age of patients was 38 years, and 90% of them had a mild illness. This is not the first signal from people in white coats about the hidden threat of a new infection. Previously, they stated that COVID-19 is theoretically capable of provoking male infertility. Such concerns are based on its similarity to the virus that causes SARS, which affects the reproductive system in men.

As for the report published on medRxiv, Chinese experts call the preliminary conclusions of their Wuhan colleagues “very valuable information”. However, they note that more extensive research will be required to confirm it. It is fair to say that Wuhan doctors do not hide: it is too early to draw far-reaching conclusions about the harmful effect of the “crown” on men’s health. The decrease in T/LH may be caused by medication or the immune system’s response to an unknown infection. To put all the dots on the “i”, they intend to conduct a long-term study with a large number of participants.

Nevertheless, judging by the comments, this publication seriously frightened the young representatives of the stronger sex, who until now have been dismissive of the infection, believing that only the elderly are in danger.

Mikhail Koryakin, MD

Mikhail Koryakin, MD, Professor, member of the European Academy of andrology:

The decrease in testosterone after a coronavirus infection is most likely temporary and is associated not only with the infection itself, but with the psychological shock that men experienced due to the fact that they were infected with COVID-19, and the fear of possible death that arose against this background. By itself, a once-defined indicator of testosterone levels can not serve as a marker of impotence, by which the authors most likely mean erectile dysfunction. Without the results of a clinical and sexological examination, it means little. Plus, there is no evidence yet that the COVID-19 coronavirus somehow affects the male sex glands that produce testosterone. In addition, modern medicine has long had reliable ways to restore the production of the main male hormone, even with its significant decrease. Therefore, I consider such concerns unfounded, premature, and even speculative. However, in any case, all precautions must be taken to avoid becoming infected with this new viral infection.

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