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How Covid-19 may lead to erectile dysfunction
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How Covid-19 may lead to erectile dysfunction

ED is one of the common sexual health problems caused due to Covid-19. However, adequate sleep and exercises can help manage the condition, say experts
Several studies show that erectile dysfunction by Covid-19 is more likely to have been caused a result of confusion and anxiety in most of the individuals who contracted the infection.
Erectile dysfunction by Covid-19 is more likely to have been caused as a result of confusion and anxiety in most of the individuals.

While Covid-19 is primarily a viral infection which causes fever and fatigue, affecting the lungs, it can also lead to long-term health conditions in an individual. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the common sexual health conditions in males caused due to Covid-19 infection.

Dr Ranjith Ramasamy, senior researcher, and director of the Reproductive Urology University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine in a conversation with Happiest Health, shares the case of an individual who underwent robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy about three years prior to a 14-day hospitalization due to Covid-19.

He says, “The individual did not have any other risk factors for erectile dysfunction, such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, or diabetes mellitus and there was no problem with erectile function without the use of medications prior to his Covid-19 infection. However, following the Covid-19 infection he had severe ED.” Erectile dysfunction was later managed in the individual through medical intervention.

How does Covid-19 lead to erectile dysfunction?

Although erectile dysfunction is mainly caused due to organic, psychological or lifestyle factors, experts say that Covid-19 may also affect the male reproductive health, leading to low testosterone levels causing erectile dysfunction (ED).

In the pilot study published in the World Journal of Men’s Health, Dr Ramasamy and his colleagues found that when Covid-19 enters cells, the virus causes damage to blood vessels in the form of endothelial dysfunction. This may lead to ED as disruptions in endothelial function impacts erections during sexual intercourse.

“Reduced nitric oxide due to Covid-19 may lead to further endothelial dysfunction. This suggests potential concerns about ED emerging as a delayed issue post-Covid-19 infection,” says Dr Ramasamy.

Highlighting this, Dr Shashidhar B, andrologist at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore says, “One of the reasons for the loss of erectile function is nitric oxide which is responsible for relaxing muscle cells in the lining of the blood vessels which open or dilate to improve blood flow. As an individual ages, the level of nitric oxide drops due to hormonal imbalances or obesity.”

Covid-19 stress may also be a cause for ED

Several studies show that erectile dysfunction by Covid-19 is more likely to have been caused a result of confusion and anxiety in most of the individuals who contracted the infection.

A study published in the journal PLOS One found that male individuals older than 40 years or having major depression during Covid-19 were at risk to be screened positive for ED after three months. “Predominantly, not just the covid-19 infection but also the anxiety of being covid positive was also found to be a cause of erectile dysfunction in many of the individuals,” added Dr Shashidhar. He also added lack of adequate sleep can also have a negative impact on the individual’s sexual health and lead to conditions like erectile dysfunction.

It was also found that men between 40 to 50 years, having comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension were also found to be more susceptible to erectile dysfunction post recovery, said Dr Karthikeyan V S, microsurgical andrologist and urologist at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai.

Ways to manage erectile dysfunction due to Covid-19

Though medical intervention may be required for managing severe erectile dysfunction in individuals, experts say the following techniques can be used in managing mild to moderate ED.

1.Follow a healthy diet:

Experts say that improving erection requires an individual to follow a healthy diet. Restricting carbohydrates and including proteins like nuts, fruits and vegetables can help in improving the hormonal balance of an individual, says Dr Karthikeyan.

2. Practice relaxation techniques:

Individuals having stress and anxiety may find it difficult to maintain erection during sexual intercourse. Experts suggest following relaxation techniques like yoga to help relieve stress.

3. Reduce alcohol intake:

Drinking alcohol for a prolonged period can affect the sexual health of an individual. “Excessive use of alcohol may lead to decrease in production of sperms thereby leading to lack of sexual desire,” says Dr Shashidhar.

4. Aerobic and Kegel exercises:

Following aerobic and Kegel exercises for at least 20 minutes a day may improve erections and testosterone levels in an individual. Exercises such as brisk walking may ensure a good blood supply to the arteries which is crucial for penile erection.

Kegel exercises, which include contracting and holding one of the pelvic floor muscles for five to seven seconds and then relaxing can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscle and improve penile blood flow.

5. Get adequate sleep:

Lack of adequate sleep may not only affect the mental health of an individual but also impact the testosterone levels affecting the sexual life. Getting adequate sleep of at least seven hours is necessary to ensure good sexual health.

Takeaways

  • One of the common sexual health conditions in males is erectile dysfunction (ED). Covid-19 may lead to ED.
  • ED can be caused due to comorbidities like diabetes, heart disease, psychological factors like stress and anxiety, lifestyle habits like smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Following a healthy diet, practicing relaxation techniques like yoga to reduce stress can help manage the condition.

 

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