COVID-19 and Impotence: There Seems to be a Connection, but How Strong Is It?

Having COVID-19 was tied to a somewhat increased risk of a new erectile dysfunction (ED) diagnosis, a researcher reported here.

Data from the study came from a U.S. insurance database and, after propensity matching, 230,517 men with recorded COVID-19 were identified, as were 232,645 without recorded COVID-19. After controlling for various factors, infection with SARS-CoV-2 was associated with increased risk of a new ED diagnosis (OR 1.120, 95% CI 1.004-1.248, P=0.0416), according to Kevin Chu, MD, of the University of Miami.

“The excess risk seems low. But we think that the long-term effects of COVID-19 may still be too early to know, so the risk could change as time goes on,” Chu said in a presentation at the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA) annual meeting.

But Ryan Terlecki, MD, of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, told MedPage Today that he had doubts about the practical application of the findings.

“We don’t know anything about a direct relationship between COVID and ED, and this study doesn’t help,” said Terlecki, who was not involved in the study. “This is not a look at men before and after COVID.” Chu’s group stated in the SMSNA abstract that men with a prior history or diagnosis of ED were excluded from the study.

T. Mike Hsieh, MD, of the University of California San Diego, told MedPage Today that he’s seen young patients who’ve sought treatment for ED after COVID-19 infection. He co-authored a 2021 article in Sexual Medicine Reviews stating that “COVID-19 has a uniquely harmful impact on men’s health and erectile function through biological, mental health, and healthcare access mechanisms.”

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