If you’re a man struggling with erectile dysfunction, you can take solace in knowing you are not alone. For those who have not experienced it themselves or are otherwise not familiar with this particular urological disorder, ED is a condition characterized by an inability to achieve or maintain an erection.
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, erectile dysfunction (ED) is quite common in the U.S. insofar as it adversely affects the lives of some 30 million men.
More than that, the probability of developing ED increases as men get older. According to research, it is estimated that men over the age of 40 have a 40 percent chance of developing some form of ED and the prevalence of ED increases by about 10 percent each decade after age 40.
Answering the question of what causes erectile dysfunction is no easy task, the reason being that the condition can stem from any number of things. From physical health conditions, hormonal imbalances, psychological issues such as stress and even mental illness the effect on men’s health can be parallel when it comes to symptoms such as ED, and the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus are no different.
How COVID-19 Can Lead to Erectile Dysfunction
Indeed, the list of chronic health problems and lifestyle habits that can give way to ED are many, and now this list has one more contributing factor to include. As some initial studies had suggested, ED has been found to be a potential byproduct of COVID-19.
This highly infectious coronavirus that has led the world into a global pandemic that has, as of this writing, led to some 38 million Americans with a positive diagnosis leaves those infected with an array of symptoms, including ED.
So, what is the connection? Essentially, researchers have found that after a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, the virus infection can remain present in the penial tissues, even after men have recovered. This lingering virus presence can result in endothelial dysfunction, a widespread blood vessel dysfunction whereby the inner lining of blood vessels in the heart no longer expand and contract to facilitate blood flow throughout the body, including the penis. This endothelial dysfunction can then ultimately contribute to erectile dysfunction due to impeded blood flow.
In further studies of the effect of COVID-19 on endothelial dysfunction and erectile dysfunction, histopathological, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural studies of the human penis found that COVID-19 can remain present in the penial tissue seven to nine months after the initial infection.
More than a year into the pandemic, researchers have found the link between COVID-19 and the development of endothelial dysfunction are closely correlated. The link doesn’t stop there however, as the nexus between ED and COVID-19 extends beyond blood vessel and blood flow complications. Evidence shows that in addition to endothelial dysfunction, additional physical and mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression and poor health due to COVID-19, can also result in erectile dysfunction.
The Bottom Line
All told, even one year into the global pandemic, there is still a lot that we don’t yet know about COVID-19 and the number of current and potential variants and their side effects and long-term symptoms, but the correlation between infection with COVID-19 and the cases of erectile dysfunction in men further illustrates that research continues to teach us long-term implications of not taking the right precautions to avoid infection. That said, like all individuals over the age of 15, men who value their sexual and overall health are encouraged to get one of the many COVID-19 vaccines currently available. For those who remain on the fence about getting the vaccine, should continue wearing a mask and practicing social distancing whenever they are in crowded spaces to lower their risk of infection and long-term symptoms, as the new saying goes; mask up to keep it up.