Peyronie’s Disease & COVID-19
It is too early into the Coronavirus pandemic to understand the long-term implications for men’s sexual health as to date there is limited clinical experience and no clinical studies into the areas of Erectile Dysfunction, Peyronie’s Disease and Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome.
What we do know at this stage is that COVID-19 has as serious impact on the bodily systems system and in the future there will be studies and clinical trials to assess the effect of both recovered Covid-19 patients and long COVID.
Please watch our short video about Covid-19 and Men’s Sexual Health.
Doctors currently suspect that there are links between Covid-19 and erectile dysfunction (ED). Research together with several anecdotal accounts suggest that growing numbers of men afflicted by Covid-19 are complaining about the condition.
It may be that inflamed blood vessels in the body triggered by Covid are causing ED in some male patients after they have recovered from the virus.
Researchers want more studies to be undertaken to explore a suspected correlation between men who contracted the virus and went on to develop pneumonia, which can in turn trigger inflammation of the blood vessels, and then ED. Another hypothesis is that Covid-19 may damage the Leydig cells that produce testosterone.
Speaking to the LA Times, Ryan Berglund, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said he had seen anecdotal evidence of the condition in those who had been infected with the virus. He thought that ED could occur from Covid-19 in a similar way to inflammation of the heart muscle, or myocarditis. “The blood vessels themselves that can become inflamed, which could cause an obstructive phenomenon and negatively impact the ability to get erections”, he said.
A survey by the University of Rome reviewed in the journal Andrology in March found the prevalence of erectile dysfunction among 100 sexually active men was significantly higher, at 28 per cent, among the 25 who had tested positive for the virus, compared with the 75 who had not, at 9.33 per cent. The researchers said that their results are highly suggestive of the role of the infection in the development of the sexual dysfunction and of the possible clinical relevance of COVID-19 as an additional risk factor for the development of ED.
Research published in the World Journal of Men’s Health in May suggested there was a difference in the composition of bodily tissue among those who had contracted the disease and those who had not.
Ranjith Ramasamy, director of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s reproductive urology programme, who led the pilot study, said ED was one possible “adverse effect of the virus”.
Researchers found that “men who previously did not complain of ED developed pretty severe ED after the onset of Covid-19 infection.” However, the sample was small, it only looked at four men – two who had been infected with the virus and two who had not.
Emmanuele Jannini, professor of endocrinology and medical sexology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy, has also argued that ED may be a symptom of long Covid.
In a scientific article published in July co-authored by Mr Jannini, he and a group of Italian scientists said erectile dysfunction was a “likely consequence of Covid-19 for survivors and considering the high transmissibility of the infection and the higher contagion rates among elderly men, a worrying phenomenon for a large part of affected patients”.
The study concluded that future research was needed to establish how Covid might lead to ED before a definitive link can be established.
A further area of future investigation, will be around the damage COVID-19 causes to the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis. These blood vessels can become clogged with fatty deposits and calcium deposits resulting in damage to the endothelium (lining), meaning they lose their flexibility and ability not only to allow a free flow of blood but also to expand and contract. Damage to these blood vessels and build-up of deposits can be a trigger in the development of Peyronie’s disease.
COVID-19 effects the vascular system (system that carries blood, pumped by the heart throughout the body). Erectile dysfunction is often a predictor of heart disease, so both the vascular system and problems with the male reproductive system are connected. COVID-19 can also cause hyperinflammation in men effecting the heart and adjacent muscles. This can affect the blood supply to the penis. Blood supply to the penis is a crucial in order for a man to achieve and maintain an erection. In fact, over 20 times the normal amount of blood needs to flow into the penis.
Successful intercourse is not just based on the vascular system it is also psychological. Impulses from our brain that travel via the central nervous system and tell our body to get aroused. An analogy would be a motor car. You need to turn the key or press a button to switch the ignition on (our brain) and make the fuel flow to the engine to make the car move (the blood). The central nervous system controls our sense of smell and taste, which are all symptoms of COVID-19. Future studies will show if there are any longer-term impacts to the Central nervous system. Another psychological impact is depression and the impacts of long-term social distancing and lockdowns have yet to be fully understood on people’s mental health.
People suffering conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease are far more vulnerable to Coronavirus. These conditions are strongly correlated to suffering erectile dysfunction and Peyronie’s disease. The medical community is at the very early stages of understanding what long term complications COVID-19 can cause as currently medical resources are geared towards prevention, vaccination and saving lives.
In the future it will become much clearer what long-term complications will occur in people that previously had good health and are now suffering ED and PD.
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