So far, we were familiar with the common symptoms of COVID-19, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of smell or taste. However, the impact of the illness does not end there. Over time, health researchers discovered many more COVID-19 related symptoms affecting patients such as the black fungus mucormycosis. Most people with COVID-19 rebound quickly, but some can experience new, returning, or ongoing health issues, weeks after being infected. Now, the University of Miami researchers, in the United States found that one of the potential complications of the virus is erectile dysfunction (ED). The researchers are the first to demonstrate that COVID-19 can be present in the penis tissue long after men recover from the virus, and lead to ED.

This isn’t the first time when medical experts displayed concern over the virus leading to impotency in men. In 2020, an American medical expert, Dr. Dena Grayson, warned that COVID-19 could cause ED among men. But the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researchers are the first to demonstrate that the virus can be present in the penis tissue, even after the patient gets recovered. In the study, published in the World Journal of Men’s health, the UM researchers noted that the widespread blood vessel dysfunction, or endothelial dysfunction, that results from the COVID-19 infection could then contribute to ED.

Ranjith Ramasamy, associate professor and director at the university’s reproductive urology programmed led the study. The research focussed on four men who were having penile prosthesis surgery for ED. Two had suffered COVID-19, and the remaining two had not. All of them were aged between 56 and 71. The researchers collected penile tissue from two men with COVID-19 history. The pair were infected with the virus, at least six and eight months before the observations. One was hospitalised for COVID-19, while the other patient only had mild symptoms when contracted the virus.

These men further had evidence of endothelial dysfunction, while the men who had been free of the virus did not. What is endothelial dysfunction? It’s a condition in which the lining of the small blood vessels fails to perform all of its functions normally. As a result, the tissues supplied by those vessels could undergo damage. “This suggests that men who develop COVID-19 infection should be aware that erectile dysfunction could be an adverse effect of the virus, and they should go to a physician if they develop ED symptoms,” Dr. Ramasamy was quoted saying in reports.

The authors theorized that similar to other COVID-19 related complications, widespread infections, and subsequent endothelial dysfunction could result in ED among men. The latest finding is yet another reason why we should do our best to avoid the virus. The research paper suggested that patients should be aware of potential complications of post-COVID-19 and consult with an appropriate specialist for treatment.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on May 13, 2021 01:13 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website