COVID-19 and the effects on the reproductive system. A new study lists several ways the virus threatens male fertility

COVID-19 and the effects on the reproductive system. A new study lists several ways the virus threatens male fertility

January 28, 2021

January 2020, the time when most of the countries around the globe began the fight with the virus COVID-19. The fight is still ongoing now, in January 2021, but for the past year researchers have had the time to analyze and discover new aspects and symptoms of the virus, and also how it affects the body. One of the discussed issues relates to the male reproductive system. According to Open Biology, a researcher team behind a new report, suggest that the Covid-19 virus can:

  • Cause inflammation and contribute to erectile dysfunction,
  • Lead to stress that threaten the reproductive and sexual health, furthermore – fertility,
  • Target male reproductive organs and harming testicular cells

"Emerging evidence indicates toward the possibility of testicular damage due to Covid-19, which in turn may compromise the fertility potential of such men along with the disruption of the normal production of sex hormones," study co-author Shubhadeep Roychoudhury, a biotechnologist at Assam University in India claims in an interview.

The researchers are also underlying that the evidence is quote: "…preliminary in nature." “There's simply not the long-term, large-scale data needed to make firm predictions.” says Roychoudhury who is the assistant professor in the Department of Life Science and Bioinformatics. Despite this, they still argue that there is a cause for concern based on how the virus overwhelms the body.

 

Ways Covid-19 may threaten male fertility, which are also mentioned on Inverse.com[1]

  1. INFLAMMATION

There's a worry that Covid-19's effects and resulting inflammation could cause temporary or permanent damage to reproductive tissue. Hyperinflammation around the heart and surrounding muscles may also block or narrow blood supply to the penis, causing erectile dysfunction. Research published in July 2020, suggests Covid-19 can worsen cardiovascular conditions, increasing the risk of erectile dysfunction and the chance of developing "sexual and reproductive health issues."

  1. HARMING TESTICULAR CELLS

This part might be too technical, but it is important. There are such receptors, called ACE2, that are the virus’s favorite entry point, and also there is a high concentration of these receptors in the male genital system, which poses a concern. The presence of the ACE2 receptor on germ cells, Leydig cells, and Sertoli cells in the male genital system makes it a potential target of Covid-19 infection, the scientists say.

Furthermore, some researchers report Covid-19 causes a reduction of Leydig cells, while Sertoli cells can become inflamed and detached. These cells are critical for reproductive health and sperm production.

According to National Herald: “COVID-19 can cause male infertility by harming the testicular cells which produces sperms thereby making it difficult to make a woman pregnant, says a new study done by the scientists of Israel.

The study, published in the journal of Fertility and Sterility, claims that the studied men had a reduction of around 50 percent on average of the number of sperm per milliliter, total volume of ejaculate, and motility of sperm.”[2]

  1. STRESS

As we have mentioned in our blog before, stress affects persons general well-being, as well as sperm quality, so accordingly pandemic-related stress, anxiety, and depression will cause a change in mood and this will affect sexual health.

The research team suggests mental health protection as an important aspect for protecting fertility.

"SARS-CoV-2-infected men should be provided with psychological consultation in time to avoid irrational fear and excessive stress, as these may indirectly affect their reproductive health and well-being," Roychoudhury says.

 

Conclusion

“Taken together, the disease could, as per the report, pose a "global threat to male fertility potential." A growing number of studies suggest men are more likely to be severely affected by Covid-19 than women. Tissue damage, hormonal imbalances, cellular interference, inflammation, and stress could all work (individually or in tandem) to disrupt men's sperm production as well as reproductive and sexual health”, according to Inverse.

But so far, there is not enough data to make a conclusion regarding the long-term effects of Covid-19 on male fertility. Researchers are not sure if or how long any virus-related effects might last. The best you can do now for yourself and others – wear a mask, wash/disinfect your hands and keep a distance.

 

 

[1] https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/coronavirus-mens-health-effect Ali Patillo,” Covid-19 could pose a “global threat” to male fertility - study”, 21/01/2021

[2] https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/health/coronavirus-can-cause-male-infertility-study IANS, “Coronavirus can cause male infertility. Study.”, 21/10/2020

 

 



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