The COVID-19 virus is changing the conversation about long-term health. As researchers continue to study the effects of COVID on the human body, a new concern is emerging. Many people infected with the virus experience symptoms weeks after the initial infection.
Post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, or long COVID as it’s commonly called, has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including fatigue, heart and lung damage, and neurological issues. These same issues are also known causes of erectile dysfunction (ED), a common condition in adult men. While long COVID complications may negatively impact men’s sexual health, some remedies can help alleviate symptoms.
What is Long Covid?
As early as July of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began to notice prolonged symptoms, classifying it as a disability a year later in 2021. Of the nearly 30 million people infected with COVID, more than 5 million have reported lingering health issues. It can affect nearly every organ and because of the impact it can have on daily life, it can sometimes be considered a disability under the ADA, Section 504 and Section 1557. .
Those suffering from long COVID commonly report:
- Joint pain
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep problems
- Digestive problems
Because these symptoms vary, developing a universal long COVID treatment plan is challenging. Besides vaccination and recommended COVID-19 booster shots, individualized treatments have helped alleviate some symptoms. These can include:
- Clinical treatment with medication
- Physical therapy
- Pulmonary rehab
In its most severe form, long COVID symptoms have caused complications in the organs, such as heart muscle inflammation, kidney injury, and abnormal lung function, to hair loss, rash, and mood changes. In terms of sexual health, women have experienced menstrual changes like irregular periods and unusual clotting, while men have reported increased instances of erectile dysfunction.
Does Covid Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
COVID-19 is known to damage blood vessels, like those needed to achieve an erection. A 2021 study of men’s sexual health demonstrated a correlation between the risk factors of ED and systemic complications of long COVID like cardiovascular disease, neuropsychiatric complications, and the onset of diabetes and thyroid dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction has long been tied to three main risk factors:
- Vascular effects – the blood supply to the penis is blocked due to disease
- Psychological impact – stress, anxiety, and depression play a role in a man’s sexual mood
- Overall health deterioration –ED signifies an underlying problem in men’s overall health
While research from the University of Miami showed a connection between a COVID-19 infection and new onset erectile dysfunction, the mirror effect of these factors makes it hard to discern whether COVID-19, pandemic-related factors such as stress and poor health decisions, or a mixture of both is the cause.
Long COVID Symptoms and Men’s Fertility
There have been instances of testicular damage following a COVID-19 infection. Research out of Texas revealed that COVID-19 reduced testosterone levels and infected the testicles. Still, more study is needed to determine if the damage is temporary or if it can affect fertility.
Treating Long COVID Erectile Dysfunction
Once diagnosed, both clinical and natural therapies can help treat long COVID erectile dysfunction. Oral medications, injections, and testosterone replacement are common clinical treatments for erectile dysfunction. But because doctors are still studying COVID erectile dysfunction, natural therapies may be better.
Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise can not only reduce symptoms, they can help prevent the onset of ED. These are easy to implement and proven to help boost the immune system, which is one of the best ways to fight long COVID.
Speak with Your Doctor About ED Treatment Options
If you’re experiencing ED and had COVID, or if you suffer from long COVID symptoms and are concerned about your sexual health, it’s best to schedule a visit with your doctor. The effects of long COVID and erectile dysfunction are still being studied, and a urologist or other ED specialists can help you navigate treatment options.
The physicians at Heally focus on integrative medicine for treating illness. Those suffering from long COVID symptoms or COVID erectile dysfunction will likely need customized, integrative treatment plans to see relief. To learn more or to set up a telehealth visit with one of our doctors, visit our website and sign up for a free account today.