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COVID-19 does WHAT?
By now, most of us are familiar with the symptoms of COVID-19 infections. The common ones include fever, cough, loss of taste and smell and breathing problems. We know the more severe cases require hospitalization, possibly in the ICU and on a ventilator. With the increasing number of cases and, thankfully, high survival rates, we now know more about short-term and long-term effects of the virus. Recovery can be a long drawn out process that may include fatigue, mental fogginess, loss of appetite and more. As if these issues aren’t bad enough, we now see increasing numbers of men developing symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED) post-COVID-19 infection.
The Covid and ED connection
What’s the connection between COVID-19 and ED? Research shows the virus attacks the lining of the walls of blood vessels. This lining, called endothelium, is a smooth, non-stick surface, sort of like Teflon. The purpose of the endothelium is to help blood flow smoothly and prevent clot formation. When the covid-19 virus attacks this surface, injury or microinflammation, called endothelial dysfunction, results. We see similar damage in the blood vessels of people with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity, as well as in smokers. Since poor blood flow is the primary issue in erectile dysfunction, it seems likely ED could be caused by the virus.
Endothelial dysfunction affects the responsiveness of the penile blood vessels to the chemical messengers and neural impulses that cause the penis to become engorged. Without adequate blood flow to the penis, an erection is difficult to maintain.
Is Covid-19 related ED a short or long term problem?
We don’t really know yet. Researchers continue to accumulate data as the number of cases increase and we get further in time away from the acute phase of the infection. This data should help determine if COVID-19 is a direct or indirect cause of ED, and if it is a short or long-term issue. It’s possible erectile dysfunction post COVID-19 is a symptom of the fatigue that accompanies recovery.
Treatment for ED associated with endothelial dysfunction
Fortunately, treatments are available. Oral medications such as Viagra and Cialis may be all that you need if your ED is a short-term problem. Topical medications or penile injections can also help correct symptoms of ED on a short-term basis. These treatments, however, don’t correct the endothelial damage causing the ED. Research demonstrates low intensity shockwave therapy (LiSWT), a non-invasive and safe treatment, repairs the endothelial damage and restores penile blood flow for men with conditions shown to cause ED.
If the theory about COVID-19 causing endothelial dysfunction is correct, then it appears likely that LiSWT could be used to prevent and treat ED in COVID-19 infection survivors.
About the author:
Dr. Ronald Kline graduated with his M.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He went on to complete both his general surgery residency and a colon and rectal surgery fellowship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He is certified by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery and is a Fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.
Dr. Kline received his certification in age management medicine from the Cenegenics Institute. This training led him to incorporate hormone replacement therapy into his practice. He saw the effects hormone replacement provided in all aspects of the patient’s life, especially sexual health. From there, he looked for additional methods to improve and enhance sexual performance, which in turn brought him to Renewal Medical Centers and the innovative therapy for improving men’s sexual health.
Disclosure: The information contained in this article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your doctor if you experience medical issues related to erectile dysfunction.