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COVID found in penile tissue, can cause erectile dysfunction

A new study out of the University of Miami is the first to have found the COVID-19 virus in penile tissue.

The study, published in the World Journal of Men’s Health, found that the virus caused widespread blood vessel dysfunction in the penile tissue, even months after recovering from the virus.

The widespread blood vessel dysfunction, known as endothelial dysfunction, is described by when the inner lining of the blood vessels fails to perform its important functions normally. This results in significant damage to the tissues supplied by those blood vessels.

Coronavirus-like spiked viral particles (arrows) visualized via TEM in the peri-vascular erectile tissue of a live patient who had previously contracted the COVID-19 virus and subsequently seroconverted.

“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,” says study author Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, associate professor and director of the Miller School’s Reproductive Urology Program, in a release. “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.”

In another study published by Dr. Ramasamy and his colleagues, the researchers found the the virus can also be found in testicular tissue. The findings by Ramasamy’s research group provide significant insight into the effect of the COVID-19 virus on male fertility and even insight on whether or not the virus can be transmitted sexually.

“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 said.

“These latest findings are yet another reason that we should all do our best to avoid COVID-19,” said first author of the paper, Eliyahu Kresch.

“We recommend vaccination and to try to stay safe in general,” Kresch said.

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