In a society where men measure their manhood by their sexual prowess and the top selling pharmaceutical product is a pill that makes the male reproductive organ stiff, perhaps it is the fear of a impotence that will finally convince pandemic deniers to take the COVID-19 crisis seriously.
While all the long-term health problems of COVID-19 are still unknown, the virus can damage the lungs, heart, and brain causing people of all ages to have trouble breathing, muscle fatigue, and loss of memory. Medical experts now believe that another problem could manifest as erectile dysfunction.
“There is some real concern that men could have long-term issues of erectile dysfunction from this virus because we know that it causes issues in the vasculature,” said Dr. Dena Grayson, MD, and infectious disease expert. “The vast majority of people do seem to recover from this virus, but as time goes on and more and more people are infected, we’re going to unfortunately see more and more of these long-term negative consequences of infection.”
Even with mild infections there are still far reaching health effects from COVID-19, such as neurological complications. Medical experts are continuing to learn about the impact of the coronavirus on the human body and while there are few direct reports of COVID-19 causing erectile dysfunction, the theoretically condition fits with current medical understandings.
“Patients who have been hospitalized with different illnesses, they do report erectile function in decline right afterwards.” said Dr. Michael Eisenberg, MD, a male sexual function specialist at Stanford University Medical Center “If men are really ill, nothing works that well, including erections.”
A July 2020 study on COVID-19 and erectile dysfunction suggested that the virus “might exacerbate cardiovascular conditions and therefore further increasing the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED).” It also noted that “COVID-19 survivors might develop sexual and reproductive health issues.” The research pointed to three factors that can lead to the onset of ED in men who contracted the coronavirus.
Vascular Effects: Erectile function is a predictor of heart disease, becasue the vascular system and reproductive system are connected. COVID-19 can cause hyper-inflammation throughout the body, especially in the heart and surrounding muscles. Blood supply to the penis can become blocked or narrowed as a result of a new or worsened vascular condition caused by the virus.
Psychological Impact: Sexual activity is closely associated with mental health. The stress, anxiety, and depression caused by the virus and pandemic can be linked to sexual dysfunction and poor mood.
Health Deterioration: ED is typically a symptom of an underlying problem. Men with poor health are at greater risk for developing ED, and also for having a severe reaction to COVID-19. Since the virus can cause a plethora of health issues, general poor health is cause for concern both for ED and other complications.
Erectile dysfunction in general is very common, affecting about 30 million American men. Along with following public health recommendations, including physical distancing, wearing masks and washing hands often to help prevent a COVID-19 infection, making healthy lifestyle choices and managing any existing health conditions can help prevent erectile dysfunction.
If the prospect of death is not enough to scare men into wearing masks or practice social distancing, perhaps the threat of a limp penis finally will inspire them to take the pandemic seriously.