Link Between Erectile Dysfunction & COVID-19
Posted: October 22, 2021
COVID-19 has been linked to many negative health effects, such as increased blood pressure, long-term breathing problems, and increased risk for blood clots. New evidence suggests COVID may also increase your risk for developing erectile dysfunction (ED). Research is still ongoing, but one study found that men may be five times more likely to experience ED after a COVID infection. We are all still learning about COVID-19 and its impacts, but there are some explanations for the potential link between coronavirus and ED.
COVID-19 May Increase Your Risk for Erectile Dysfunction
There have been a few studies into whether COVID-19 might cause erectile dysfunction. One study looked at two men who started experiencing ED after contracting COVID. One of the men was hospitalized for severe symptoms. The other man experienced mostly mild symptoms. Both men reported normal, healthy erections before COVID, yet developed ED after their COVID infection.
“We found that the virus affects the blood vessels that supply the penis, causing erectile dysfunction.”
– Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, director of reproductive urology at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine
The researchers even found COVID virus particles in penile tissue taken from these two men. This may shed some light on the link between COVID and ED. The virus may stay in penile tissues after you recover. Other studies have also looked at different health effects of COVID and how they might affect the risk for erectile dysfunction.
What Does COVID Have to Do With Erections?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. You might know the symptoms by heart now we’ve been battling the pandemic for so long. Just as a refresher, some symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of taste or smell
- Muscle aches
- Congestion or runny nose
- Sore throat
Knowing this, you might be wondering what COVID-19 has to do with erectile function. While COVID is a respiratory illness, it can affect many different systems in your body. There may be several factors at play that can increase your risk for erectile dysfunction after COVID.
Blood Vessel Damage from COVID can Increase the Risk for Erectile Dysfunction
One of the main theories behind why COVID may cause erectile dysfunction is blood vessel damage can limit blood flow to the penis. COVID-19 can cause widespread endothelial damage. This can reduce blood flow to the penis, which may make it difficult to get or maintain an erection.
COVID-19 can cause hyperinflammation throughout your body. This inflammation can make respiratory issues worse and also damage the endothelium. The endothelium is the lining of your blood vessels. It’s responsible for controlling blood flow in your body. When the endothelium contracts, it limits blood flow. When it dilates, it increases blood flow.
Endothelial damage from COVID-19 may be to blame for erectile dysfunction post-COVID. Damage to the endothelium can negatively affect the function of your blood vessels, including those leading to the penis. Some researchers believe this is the main culprit of erectile dysfunction after COVID. The endothelial damage may cause blood vessels to become narrower. Narrow blood vessels can make it difficult to get enough blood into the penis for an erection.
COVID-19 Can Worsen Cardiovascular Issues that Can Lead to Erectile Dysfunction
Another potential explanation for the link between ED and COVID is that the disease can make cardiovascular diseases worse, which may lead to erectile dysfunction. Many of the patients who experience severe COVID symptoms have underlying conditions, such as heart disease. Some researchers also believe that worsening heart and vascular problems brought on by a COVID infection may increase the risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Therefore, people may experience ED at higher rates after COVID because of worse heart and vascular problems.
We have long seen a connection between cardiovascular issues and erectile dysfunction. Heart disease, atherosclerosis, and even high blood pressure can all contribute to erectile dysfunction. These conditions all affect blood flow, including to the penis. Therefore, it may be that many men who experience erectile dysfunction after COVID had underlying conditions they weren’t aware of before contracting the virus.
COVID can Affect Your Hormones
Some research also suggests that COVID may impact your hormone levels. In some cases, hormone deficiencies can decrease your sex drive and lead to erectile dysfunction symptoms. Some studies suggest that the coronavirus may invade tissues in the testicles. Since the testicles are important for testosterone production, some men may experience low testosterone levels after COVID-19. This can lead to a lower libido than before contracting COVID. Decreased sex drive is another common cause of erectile dysfunction, so this may also play a role in the relationship between COVID and ED.
Symptoms from COVID Can Reduce Sex Drive
It may go without saying, but if you’ve recently contracted COVID-19 and you’re still recovering, some of your symptoms can lower your sex drive. This can lead to difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. Just like any other illness, you might lose some interest in sex until you’re fully recovered.
Everyone reacts to COVID a little differently. However, when recovering from even a mild case of COVID you may feel extremely tired, weak, and lethargic. You may also experience body and muscle aches. Some people experience these symptoms even after they are no longer contagious. If you’re still recovering from COVID, you might have lower libido until after your symptoms get better. So, if you experience erectile dysfunction while still recovering, it may be due to how you’re feeling and may not be a lasting effect of COVID.
Low Mood during the Pandemic May Decrease Libido
Another important thing to mention is that the pandemic has put a lot of stress on people. Stress, low mood, depression, anxiety, and even relationship troubles can all lead to erectile dysfunction. Even men who haven’t contracted COVID may experience ED related to pandemic stressors. Some people experience even worse mental health effects after getting COVID. While physical causes are frequently to blame for erectile dysfunction, it’s also necessary to mention potential psychological causes, too, particularly while so many people are struggling with a lot of negative emotions and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Erectile Dysfunction and Severe COVID-19 Share Similar Risk Factors
Also, it’s important to point out that risk factors for erectile dysfunction and severe COVID-19 are similar. For instance, obesity, high blood pressure, age, heart disease, and poor overall health may all increase your risk for both severe COVID symptoms and erectile dysfunction. Therefore, for some men ED and COVID may not be connected at all, but symptoms may come down to your health, lifestyle, and other risk factors.
Experiencing Erectile Dysfunction after COVID? ED Drugs May Help
If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction, whether from COVID or from other factors, know that there are treatments available. There are many medications that may help improve erectile function and help you improve your sex life. Our providers are here to help identify underlying causes of your ED and find treatment solutions tailored to you. In some cases, treating underlying causes like hormone deficiencies may help improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction. In other cases, there are many erectile dysfunction drugs that may help, like PDE5 inhibitors sildenafil and tadalafil. Other common ED treatment options include PT-141 peptide therapy and TriMix injections. Our team can discuss your options and help find treatments based on your unique situation.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Solutions at Low T Center
Erectile dysfunction can interfere with your life in many ways. Our team at Low T Center is here to help you address your health and feel better. We offer treatment solutions for many common conditions you may experience, including erectile dysfunction. We are dedicated to reinventing men’s healthcare. Our team provides affordable, accessible, and convenient care at our clinics. Make an appointment at a location near you to discuss your symptoms and take the first step toward better health.
Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.