The impact of Long Covid on one’s love life is one of the major risks of the disease, not least because the lack of energy and breath many have will leave them struggling to undertake any vigorous activity. But one aspect in particular is proving a deep concern.
For months now it has been observed that there is a link between the condition and erectile dysfunction. This has not come as a surprise to medics: after all, the virus causes clots and ‘sticky’ blood as well as the inflammation of vessels, restricting the flow of blood to penile tissue.
However, the latest studies have shown the problem is more common than previously thought. As recently as the end of last month it was being reported that men with long Covid had three times the normal risk of dysfunction, based on a study by the University of Rome. But that was not the case. A closer study of the data shows the risk factor increases not by three, but six.
In addition, the data also showed the danger is a two-way street: men with erectile dysfunction to start with are more than five times as likely to contract Covid symptoms. It really is a vicious circle.
None of this means men with erectile dysfunction should not seek to tackle the problem by obtaining some cheap sildenafil. But it does add weight to the consideration that those keen on avoiding erectile dysfunction and those already with the condition should take every step they can to avoid getting the virus.
Commenting on this issue in Medscape, Allan Pacey, a professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, acknowledged that at this point the findings are “just a correlation” and there are possible comorbidities that could account for this independently of Covid.
However, he added: “The authors offer a plausible mechanism by which COVID-19 may impact directly on erectile function.” The professor concluded: “I’d also argue it’s a good reason for men to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and take the vaccine when it’s offered to them.”
Other experts speaking to the publication made similar comments and it is certainly true that the findings have to be taken as preliminary because they are new, require extensive peer review like any other scientific research.
Moreover, given we are only discovering the extended effects of longer Covid in real-time as people suffer with it, research into this aspect is sure to be ongoing. There may be much more detail waiting to be uncovered.
Nonetheless, there is sufficient information to indicate this is a very real issue and needs to be taken very seriously by anyone concerned with erectile dysfunction problems.
However, there may be some good news even for those who have already contracted long Covid. As CNBC has reported, sufferers who have been vaccinated have found their symptoms easing after the effects of the jab started to kick in. This may be an indication that there is a medical intervention, rather than just the passage of time, that can help ease these symptoms.
In the meantime, research will continue into links between long Covid and erectile dysfunction, but at least this particular symptom of the virus can be treated no matter what the cause.