According to the Center for Disease Control, 20% of men who have been infected with the virus (1 in 13 men in the US) are experiencing long-term health affects.
Symptoms of “long COVID” are wide ranging, and may include chronic fatigue, muscle aches, lung and respiratory problems, heart conditions, diarrhea and stomach pain, and erectile dysfunction. Symptoms may persist for weeks, months, or years, and in some cases my be permanent.
A large-scale study1 found that men who have been infected with the COVID virus have a 20% higher chance of experiencing ED.
Another study2 of nearly half a million men identified ejaculation difficulty and reduced libido as Long COVID symptoms.
A comprehensive review3 of 60 studies concluded that “COVID-19 has a uniquely harmful impact on men’s health and erectile function through biological, mental health, and healthcare access mechanisms.”
Researchers are beginning to understand how COVID produces long-term erectile dysfunction. COVID-19 can adversely affect endothelial cell function. These cells release substances that control vascular relaxation and contraction, so damage to them is likely to affect erectile function. There is evidence of the virus remaining within the endothelial cells in the penis as much as seven months after infection.
Additional research has found that the virus can cause long-term damage to blood vessels, and lowering of testosterone. (See our article, “Does COVID-19 Cause Long-Term Erectile Dysfunction?“)
How long the damage from COVID will last is still unknown. Studies conducted in China4 and Italy5 have shown that erectile function is impaired at least six to seven months after infection.
Despite public concerns about effects of vaccines, multiple studies6 have shown no link between vaccination and erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction and other symptoms of Long COVID are caused by the virus, not the vaccine.
- Chu, Kevin Y; Nackeeran, Sirpi; Horodyski, Laura; Masterson, Thomas A; Ramasamy, Ranjith. “COVID-19 Infection Is Associated With New Onset Erectile Dysfunction: Insights From a National Registry.” Sexual Medicine. Feb 2022; 10(1):100478.
- Subramanian, Anuradhaa; Nirantharakumar, Krishnarajah; Haroon, Shamil. “Symptoms and risk factors for long COVID in non-hospitalized adults.” Nature. July 2022; 28, 1706–1714 (2022).
- Hsieh, Tung-Chin; Edwards, Natalie C; Bhattacharyya, Samir K; Nitschelm, Krista D; Burnett, Arthur L. “The Epidemic of COVID-19-Related Erectile Dysfunction: A Scoping Review and Health Care Perspective.” Sexual Medicine Reviews. April 2022; 10(2): 286–310.
- Hu, Bintao; Ruan, Yajun; Liu, Kang; Wei, Xian; Wu, Yue; Feng, Huan; Deng, Zhiyao; Liu, Jihong; Wang, Tao. “A Mid-to-Long Term Comprehensive Evaluation of Psychological Distress and Erectile Function in COVID-19 Recovered Patients.” Journal of Sexual Medicine. November 2021;18(11):1863-1871.
- Salonia, Andrea; Pontillo, Marina; Capogrosso, Paolo; Gregori, Silvia; Carenzi, Cristina; Ferrara, Anna Maria; Rowe, Isaline; Boeri, Luca; Larcher, Alessandro; Ramirez, Giuseppe A; Tresoldi, Cristina; Locatelli, Massimo; Cavalli, Giulio; Dagna, Lorenzo; Castagna, Antonella; Zangrillo, Alberto; Tresoldi, Moreno; Landoni, Giovanni; Rovere‐Querini, Patrizia; Ciceri, Fabio; Montorsi, Francesco. “Testosterone in males with COVID‐19: A 7‐month cohort study.” Andrology. January 2022; 10(1): 34–41.
- Gonzalez, Daniel C.; Nassau, Daniel E; Khodamoradi, Kajal; Ibrahim, Emad; Blachman-Braun, Ruben; Ory, Jesse; Ramasamy, Ranjith. “Sperm Parameters Before and After COVID-19 mRNA Vaccination.” Journal of the American Medical Association. July 2021; 326(3): 273–274.