COVID-19 can have many impacts, both physical and psychological. One question that keeps coming up in the media and recent literature is whether there is a link between COVID-19 and erectile dysfunction.
In this article, we look at numerous studies on the associations between COVID-19 and erectile dysfunction (ED).
We also explore whether ED can increase the risk of COVID-19, potential complications of COVID-19, treatments for ED, and when to contact a doctor.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Several studies explore COVID-19’s effects on ED.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers involved in a
Another 2022 study among 348 participants attempts to determine if COVID-19 can cause testicular damage. Comparing testosterone levels before and after COVID-19 in a 1-year span, this study suggests those positive for COVID-19 had a greater decrease in testosterone levels than those who did not get the infection.
COVID-19, mental health, and ED
According to a 2022 report by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people with chronic long-term depression or persistent feelings of loneliness were
The above studies show an association between COVID-19, anxiety or depression, overall health, and ED.
However, people can have underlying health conditions that affect the results. Most of the studies state that more research is necessary to truly explore the link between COVID-19 and ED.
Very few studies have explored the risk of getting COVID-19 in people with ED.
This study points out that its results are preliminary and more research is necessary. It is also important to note that correlation does not equal causation.
However, there is also another viewpoint.
A wide range of symptoms and complications may arise from COVID-19.
For example, a
- respiratory failure
- fluid in the lungs
- cardiac injury
- kidney failure
- inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues
- secondary infections
- getting the vaccines, including any applicable boosters
- wearing a well-fitting mask in public indoor areas
- staying 6 feet away from others
- avoiding crowds and spaces with poor ventilation
- testing to reduce the chance of spreading the virus
- washing hands carefully or using a hand sanitizer that contains a minimum of 60% alcohol
- cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as necessary
- being alert for symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath
- following government and CDC recommendations for quarantine, isolation, and travel
The CDC also states that people with a weakened immune system should take extra precautions.
According to the
- Lifestyle changes: These may involve not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke, limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption, stopping any illegal drug use, and increasing physical activity. Eating a healthy diet can also help people maintain a moderate body weight and reduce inflammation.
- Counseling: ED can have a psychological effect, leading to stress or sexual anxiety. Talking with a proficient counselor or psychologist can help alleviate stress or psychological effects.
- Oral medications: These may help in getting and maintaining erections. Examples include sildenafil, vardenafil, and tadalafil. However, most require a prescription and do not work with some other medications, such as alpha-blockers or nitrates.
- Injectables and suppositories: These are only available by prescription. They work by transferring the drug alprostadil into the bloodstream. This triggers an erection within 10 minutes that can last up to 60 minutes.
- Surgery: A urologist can recommend surgery to rebuild arteries to increase the penile blood flow or implant a device that helps the penis get an erection.
According to a
People with COVID-19 who have concerns about its long-term effects on their particular health condition should consult a doctor to see if there are any precautions or tests they can take. Many online health services can help people access a doctor, even if they cannot leave their house.
Similarly, those with CVD or any underlying medical condition that increases their chance of getting COVID-19 should also talk with a doctor to increase preventive measures. The
Some people may feel anxious or uncomfortable at the prospect of speaking with a doctor about ED. However, the condition is nothing to be embarrassed about, and a doctor or urologist can most likely help resolve or treat the symptoms.
Both COVID-19 and ED affect many people. Numerous studies suggest links between the two, including direct and indirect associations.
In particular, it seems that people with COVID-19 may have a higher chance of getting ED or worsening their current ED. The opposite could also be true. However, more research is necessary to determine the long-term impact.
One way to prevent ED may be to increase protection against COVID-19. There are numerous ways to do this, including wearing masks. People with a weakened immune system or ED and those experiencing complications from COVID-19 may find it helpful to speak with a doctor about their concerns.