Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a prevalent sexual dysfunction affecting men, with global statistics on male reproductive health projecting 322million ED cases by 2025. ED has various physical and physiological causes, and one recent study adds COVID-19 to the list of ED causes.
Coronavirus needs no introduction, given its devastating effect on people’s health and socio-economic lives. The virus has a ravaging effect on the body, damaging vital body organs like the lungs, heart, and brain. Although COVID-9 has no cure, you can take the precautions below to avoid exposure to the virus, saving yourself from severe erectile dysfunction.
The Link Between COVID-19 And Erectile Dysfunction
A basic understanding of how healthy erections and erectile dysfunctions occur is essential to understanding the link between COVID-19 and ED. A healthy erection begins with sexual arousal resulting from external or internal stimuli. Once the brain receives the sexual arousal signals, it processes them and triggers nitric oxide (NO) production.
The nitric oxide stimulates cGMP production, an enzyme that triggers relaxation in the spongy penile tissue called corpora cavernosa. As the arteries inside the corpora cavernosa relax, blood gushes in to fill them up, causing the penis to remain firm. After ejaculation, a compound called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) breaks down cGMP allowing the arteries to contract, redirecting blood flow away from the penis.
As earlier stated, ED has various physiological and psychological causes including, cardiovascular issues, hormonal imbalance, neurological disorders, penile anomalies, stress, and anxiety. ED may also indicate a more significant underlying health issue. However, regardless of the root cause, the result is always low nitric oxide levels and quick cGMP breakdown, limiting blood flow to the corpora cavernosa.
COVID-19 has devastating effects on the brain and the heart, contributing to erectile dysfunction as follows. The virus affects how the brain interprets arousal signals and may inhibit NO production.
Coronavirus also causes severe inflammation and blood clots in the vascular system, limiting blood vessels’ vasodilation capacity, thus limiting blood flow. Third, elevated anxiety and depression levels resulting from COVID-19 may also contribute to erectile dysfunction
Finally, an autopsy conducted on COVID-19 victims revealed traces of the virus and a low sperm count. The study also features biopsy tests on a COVID-19 survivor’s testis and revealed viral cells three months after the initial infection .
So, COVID-19 directly or indirectly affects the male reproductive system causing severe erectile dysfunction. You may consult your doctor or refer to Get Smarted, an online pharmacy that specializes in erectile dysfunction.
With the above knowledge in mind, you can take the steps below to protect yourself from various COVID-19 long-term symptoms, including erectile dysfunction.
1. Adhere To COVID-19 Safety Guidelines
Most federal and local governments have COVID-19 safety guidelines in place to help limit exposure to the virus, curbing new transmissions. The guidelines may vary slightly but generally go as follows.
First, always wear a mask, notably when in crowded indoor spaces; a study conducted on facial masks efficacy in viral protection showed 80% effectiveness. However, avoid crowds in poorly ventilated areas if you can.
Second, maintain at least six feet of distance from people to limit contact. Third, wash your hands frequently, especially when you get home, before meals, and before touching your face to kill the virus, preventing infections. In the absence of water and soap, consider using alcohol rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
Finally, maintain proper hygiene by frequently sanitizing surfaces to kill virus molecules. Some people may argue that the above guidelines infringe on their civil liberties. However, while civil liberties are a gift that many around the globe are yet to experience, you will not enjoy them when you are dead either.
2. Get Vaccinated
Despite the information circulating in public domains that COVID-19 vaccines cause ED, the biopsy study referenced above debunks that myth. Although research on COVID-19 effects remains limited, public health officials agree with the preliminary findings above that the virus, rather than the vaccines, cause ED.
COVID-19 vaccines are now more available than they were before, so ensure you get vaccinated to prevent the virus’ adverse effects, including hospitalization and death. Canada currently has four approved vaccines, namely Moderna Spikevax, Pfizer BioNTech Comirnaty, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson, authorized based on effectiveness and safety.
The first two vaccines are recommended for people aged at least 12years, while the last two are ideal for people aged 18 years and above. Federal and provincial governments provide directives on how to access and book appointments to receive the vaccines.
3. Practice Self-care
A mental health tracking poll conducted in July 2020 revealed that the pandemic worsened mental health and anxiety symptoms like insomnia, fluctuating appetite, and worsening chronic pain. As earlier stated, psychological issues like mental health illnesses can cause erectile dysfunctions.
Given the pandemic’s socio-economic impact, it is easy to get lost in anxiety and depressive symptoms. However, practising self-care tips like physical and mental exercises, eating healthy, and staying in touch with friends and family can help overcome mental health symptoms.
4. Monitor Your Health
Learn ED symptoms and consult your doctor when you feel something is wrong, especially if you had a previous COVID-19 diagnosis. Early intervention may require more superficial therapy to remedy the situation.
COVID-19 poses a significant health risk to your physical and mental health that may lead to erectile dysfunction. However, you can follow the simple tips below to stay safe from ED and other COVID-related long-haul symptoms.