COVID-19 Can Infect Penis Tissue And May Affect Your Boner

A very suggestive vegetable. Image credit: Dainis Graveris/Unsplash

It seems no part of the body is safe from SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19. The fiendishly effective virus can infiltrate the lungs, the heart, the brain, the gut, and – so it turns out – even the penis.

In a small pilot study, scientists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have recently explained how the COVID-19 virus can be found in penis tissue long after the initial infection has cleared up. In turn, they believe this could potentially contribute to problems obtaining an erection. 

The instances of so-called “schlong-COVID” (that’s not the scientific name) were recently documented in the World Journal of Men's Health.

The researchers collected penile tissue from four patients undergoing penile prosthesis surgery due to severe erectile dysfunction. Two had no history of COVID-19, one had previously experienced a mild infection, and the other was hospitalized for his infection. Both of the infected men reported having "normal erectile function" without the use of medications before their COVID-19 infections.

SARS-CoV-2 was found within the penis tissue of the two men who had experienced COVID-19, but not in the uninfected pair. This is particularly remarkable since the men caught COVID-19 at least six months prior, suggesting the virus had been lingering in the penis all this time. 

It may seem unexpected that SARS-CoV-2 affects the ability to get a stiffy, but it’s all to do with blood vessels. It’s fairly well established that SARS-CoV-2 can attack blood vessels and cause damage to the vascular system in many organs of the body. This also appears to apply to the blood vessels that can be found with the erectile tissue of the penis. To get a hard-on, blood rushes into the spongy erectile tissue – called corpus cavernosum – in the middle of the penis, causing it to get stiff and hard like a balloon filling with air. 

In this study, the researchers noted that the infected men had shown evidence of damage to the lining of the small blood vessels in the penis tissue, but the virus-free men did not. Based on all of these observations, the study authors hypothesize that COVID-19 and the resulting damage to blood vessels in the penis may contribute to erectile dysfunction in some patients. It’s also put forward that the worsening of erectile dysfunction may be down to the virus's presence in the penile tissue.

Bear in mind, this research is only considered a pilot study and only featured an extremely small sample size, so its findings should be taken with a dab of caution. In other words, just because you’ve caught COVID-19, it doesn’t necessarily mean the penis tissue has been infected and you’ll go on to have issues in the bedroom. That said, if you are worried your morning glory doesn't shine as bright as it used to, you should pay a visit to your doctor. 

“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," Ranjith Ramasamy, study author and associate professor and director of the Miller School's Reproductive Urology Program, said in a press release.

"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 [erectile dysfunction] symptoms," adds Dr Ramasamy.

 


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