A new study published in The World Journal of Men's Health says aftereffects of contracting COVID-19 could cause erectile dysfunction in men.
"Our research shows that COVID-19 can cause widespread endothelial dysfunction in organ systems beyond the lungs and kidneys. The underlying endothelial dysfunction that happens because of COVID-19 can enter the endothelial cells and affect many organs, including the penis," said Ranjith Ramasamy, M.D., associate professor and director of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine's Reproductive Urology Program.
"In our pilot study, we found that men who previously did not complain of erectile dysfunction developed pretty severe erectile dysfunction after the onset of COVID-19 infection," Ramasamy continued.
Ramasamy and researchers from UMiami discovered long after recovery, the virus may stay in mens' penises for months on end. And if that wasn't scary, researchers further hypothesize that the "widespread blood vessel dysfunction" caused by COVID could contribute to erectile dysfunction.
"The blood vessels themselves malfunction and are not able to provide enough blood to enter the penis for an erection," Ramasamy said. "We found that the virus affects the blood vessels that supply the penis, causing erectile dysfunction."
The virus has been associated with damaging other organs, such as the lungs, kidneys, and brain. But now, after collecting penile tissue samples from two men with a history of COVID infections, UMiami researchers believe erectile dysfunction "could be permanent."
This isn't the first study that has claimed COVID can cause erectile dysfunction.
In March, researchers from the University of Rome published a study in the medical journal Andrology titled ""Mask up to keep it up": Preliminary evidence of the association between erectile dysfunction and COVID‐19," which said those who contracted the virus were 5.6x more likely to have erectile dysfunction.
Ramasamy said more data is needed to understand better how widespread erectile dysfunction is post-COVID infection.
Both studies come as one of the biggest deflationary threats looms over the global economy: US birth rates have fallen to their lowest level in a generation.