It has been proven that the SARS-CoV-2 virus (coronavirus) can penetrate into the seminal fluid. This fact has also been confirmed for patients with COVID-19. From this we can conclude that, like hepatitis, measles, herpes viruses , coronavirus can negatively affect reproductive health. And there are understandable reasons for this, related to a certain effect of covid on certain tissues and organs. In the worst cases, men face infertility .
Coronavirus damages testicular tissue
The main impact of covid on men is due to effects on testicular tissue. The virus enters the body through the respiratory route, and then generally moves through all organs and systems, including the heart, intestines, thyroid gland and genitals.
Through receptors, the virus gets to certain enzymes in the cells of the testicles. In addition to damaging their tissues, this leads to a violation of the formation of spermatozoa. Their quantity, quality, mobility may decrease. There is evidence that coronavirus enhances DNA fragmentation of sperm nuclei. This means a break and damage to their chains, i.e. deterioration in the quality of the ejaculate.
This fact was proven by scientists during post-mortem studies of testicular tissue of patients with COVID-19. Specialists found edema, impaired spermatogenesis and a complete absence of spermatozoa in the seminiferous tubules. Coronavirus was also detected in the semen of recovered men: at the stage of the disease - in 15% of patients, and at the stage of recovery - in 8% of the examined.
Another complication against the background of coronavirus is testicular inflammation - orchitis . A number of men are faced with their vascularization - the formation of new blood vessels, while others have complaints of discomfort in the scrotum.
Covid negatively affects blood vessels
Another reason for the negative impact on men's health is endothelial dysfunction, also caused by coronavirus. Here we are talking about a violation of the mucous membrane of small blood vessels. Because of this, the tissues that they nourish do not receive sufficient blood supply and lose the ability to fully perform their functions. With endothelial dysfunction in the penis, erectile dysfunction develops .
Coronavirus causes a general inflammatory response
Covid and potency in men are connected not only due to the direct effect of the virus on the genitals. Another reason for the deterioration of sexual function is the general inflammatory reaction caused by the coronavirus. The body inevitably reacts to it, which in men can manifest itself in the form of a decrease in testosterone levels and a weakening of libido.
Covid disrupts CNS structures
Other consequences of covid in men are related to the effect of the virus on the central nervous system. Due to its microscopic size, it can pass through the blood-brain barrier, which is designed to protect the nervous tissue from microorganisms circulating in the blood.
Once in the brain, the virus can disrupt the functioning of the structures responsible for sexual function. Fertility is impaired if the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, which is responsible for the production of FSH and LH (follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormones responsible for sperm maturation), is affected.
Male fertility after covid suffers not only from the action of the virus itself. The drugs prescribed for treatment and the state of anxiety have a negative effect on sexual function. Another provoking factor is oxidative stress, a pathological effect of reactive oxygen species (ROS) on spermatozoa. SARS-CoV-2 is a factor provoking the development of oxidative stress. In this regard, antioxidants are used to treat patients with COVID-19, including to preserve reproductive function.
Does covid affect male potency? Yes, cases have been recorded around the world that in men who have had COVID-19, fertility has sharply decreased, sexual desire has weakened, erections have worsened, and ejaculation has been disturbed. This is due to a lack of testosterone, progression of endothelial dysfunction, damage to testicular tissues and damage to the structures of the central nervous system responsible for the production of FSH and LH.
What to do?
To what extent the situation is reversible is still unknown. This suggests that even with an asymptomatic or mild course, consequences from the reproductive system may appear in the future. Erectile dysfunction, orchitis, disorders of spermatogenesis develop as complications. Infertility is not excluded, but according to experts, it is partial, and over time the situation can be corrected. But 100% data on this is not yet available, since the issue of consequences in the long term is under study.
At the same time, today there are already medical protocols for managing patients planning a pregnancy after recovering from a coronavirus infection. Researchers recommend that men who are planning fatherhood take a spermogram, a MAR test for antiglobulin reaction, and a DNA fragmentation analysis of spermatozoa.