- Two men who recovered from COVID-19 experienced severe erectile dysfunction many months later, eventually seeking penile implants.
- The doctors who placed the men's implants found virus particles in their penises.
- The infection may have caused ED by restricting blood flow to the penis.
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Long COVID can cause a range of problems, affecting the body from head to penis in some cases.
When two men who recovered from COVID-19 later sought surgeries to treat erectile dysfunction, researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine analyzed their penile tissue and found the virus was still present months after infection.
Both men had "normal erectile function" prior to getting COVID, according to findings published in the World Journal of Men's Health. But seven to nine months after their infections, they sought penile implant surgeries to help with sexual function.
The researchers concluded that the infection may have restricted blood supply to the penis, leading to severe erectile dysfunction down the line.
COVID-19 can cause complications throughout the body
The penis is just another organ that is at risk due to COVID-related blood clotting.
Long-term complications can occur after even mild COVID-19 infections.
In the ED cases summarized in the paper, one man was hospitalized for two weeks with COVID-19. The other had a relatively mild case of COVID-19. He also had a history of coronary artery disease and hypertension, both of which increased his risk of ED.
ED is on the rise, possibly due to stress
Urologists have been seeing more cases of erectile dysfunction since the start of the pandemic, Insider's Julia Naftulin reported in January.
People who are less active are more likely to gain weight and develop heart problems, which can reduce their ability to pump blood to the penis.
The adrenaline associated with the body's stress response can also shut off blood flow to the penis. People who are chronically stressed, anxious, or depressed have a higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction.