Along with physical and mental health, sexual health problems are also aggravated by the ongoing pandemic, a primary reason being increasing stress due to factors such as job, work life balance, financial challenges, lack of socialising and strained relationships. A recent study has revealed that Covid-19 increases the risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED) by nearly six times.
Sexual health and wellness is defined as a state of physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions in relation to sexuality. Sexual intimacy is a highly stigmatised and taboo topic in India, and people are usually unwilling to talk openly about their sexuality and sexual health.
Stress directly affects our hormones and mood and can take away a person’s libido, thereby affecting quality time of a couple. It can also cause one to indulge in smoking or alcohol consumption which in turn can adversely affect sexual performance. These can lead to problems such as premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, and male fertility.
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is a common condition that can make sexual activity difficult. It may lead to a loss of intimacy in a marriage or long-term relationship, affecting the mental well-being of both partners. Some leading Indian andrologists share their thoughts on the recent study and the co-relation between the coronavirus and erectile dysfunction.
Pramod Krishnappa, Consultant Andrologist, NU Hospitals, Bangalore tells IANSlife: “The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on humans causing both physical and mental illness. Although the lung is the most prominent organ affected, a recent research paper from Miami has revealed the presence of Covid-19 viral particles in the most sensitive organ, penis. The authors have also hypothesised that this widespread endothelial dysfunction could lead to erectile dysfunction. An Italian survey led by Sansone also revealed that the erectile dysfunction was common among those who had Covid-19 infection in the past and very aptly commented that “Mask up to keep IT up”.”
Raman Tanwar, MBBS, MS, FMAS, MCh (Urology) Gold Medallist, Department of Urology and Andrology at Uro centre, Jyoti Hospital, Gurugram adds, “Covid-19 infection leads to widespread endothelial dysfunction which means that the linings of blood vessels do not function properly once infected. For erection the optimal function of blood vessel lining is needed and many studies across the world are finding an increased incidence of erectile dysfunction in patients who are positive. Studies have also pointed that those who have ED are more likely to have Covid-19 infection.”
If an individual is diagnosed with ED, the first step is to reach out to a doctor as it can be a sign of underlying health problem. Heart diseases, clogged blood vessels, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, stress, depression and lifestyle habits like smoking and alcohol consumption are a few of the main causes of erectile dysfunction.
Vineet Malhotra, Clinical Director, Diyos Men’s Health Centre shares: “The recent study conducted at the Miller School of medicine, Miami, USA notes the presence of Covid-19 in the penis even 7 months post infection. The increased risk of endothelial dysfunction can lead to a risk of erectile dysfunction in affected men.”
Sanjay Pandey, Head of Uro-Andrology at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai tells IANSlife: “Covid-19 affects different men in different ways. There is a possibility that some men might develop ED after suffering from Covid-19. So particularly for young and healthy people who abruptly develop erectile dysfunction, and especially after having Covid-19, this can be a sign of something more serious going on. This could last for long term or short term. ED is usually a symptom of another medical condition. If your health isn’t great to begin with, you’re more likely to have severe or unwanted symptoms from Covid-19, such as ED.”
Doctors suggest that with the number of cases increasing every day and multiple studies indicating that men are more prone to Covid-19, this study makes it more imperative that men must be extra cautious in their everyday life ignoring which could affect various aspects of their lives.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at [email protected])