Experts have claimed that erectile dysfunction (ED) could be a new symptom of long COVID, and say is an even bigger reason for young men to get vaccinated, as NHS bosses say long COVID is a threat to young Brits.
The Independent reports that COVID-19 is known to impact blood vessels in some cases, and this inflammation of the vessels may restrict blood flow to the penis, making it difficult for a man to achieve an erection.
Dr Ryan Berglund, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, told the LA Times: “The blood vessels themselves that can become inflamed… could cause an obstructive phenomenon and negatively impact the ability to get erections.”
He said he had seen some anecdotal evidence that patients had been suffering from the condition after being infected with the coronavirus.
Dr Berglund joked: “Having vaccinations leads to having more sex. I would suggest for young people to get their vaccinations: If they want to have sex, better to get the vaccine.”
However, a direct link between long COVID and ED has yet to be confirmed, and Dr Berglund stated that “anything that could affect the ability of the artery to effectively deliver sufficient blood supply could lead to erectile dysfunction”.
Emmanuele Jannini, professor of endocrinology and medical sexology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy, has also warned erectile dysfunction may be a symptom of long COVID saying that he suspects “erectile dysfunction that occurs after COVID-19 could last long after the disease has resolved”.
A scientific article published last July co-authored by Professor Jannini and a group of Italian scientists said erectile dysfunction was a ‘likely consequence of COVID-19 for survivors’.
He explained that the virus triggers inflammation of the blood vessels, and when those blood vessels and the rest of the cardiovascular system are harmed, it can trigger erectile dysfunction.
There are a few other theories, including that a lack of oxygen associated with COVID-19, being a respiratory disease, could impair erectile function.
Professor Jannini said that patients whose coronavirus infections resulted in pneumonia were likely at higher risk of ED.
However, it has been suggested that mental health problems triggered by COVID-related stress or anxiety could also lead to problems in the bedroom.
The published paper concluded that further research was needed to establish how COVID-19 might lead to ED.
The warnings come as experts warn of an epidemic of long COVID cases in young people as infections of the Delta variant soar in the UK, particularly in those who are unvaccinated, and figures suggest that up to 500 unvaccinated young people a day could be coming down with long COVID.
The data comes from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study, led by Tim Spector OBE, lead professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London.
He said: “Vaccines reduce the chances of people getting long COVID, by reducing the risk of seriously debilitating symptoms and also by reducing the chances of an infection lasting more than three months.
“But unfortunately, if new cases continue to increase then many more thousands of people, especially the young, will be affected by long term symptoms that leave sufferers unable to live life normally.”
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