Humans are a complex animal, but men, in general, are comparatively simple. Oftentimes men are considered as a monolith in the way they think. And a new development in the research of the Covid-19 virus is hoping to compel men to mask up and vaccinate with a new motivation that some consider to be more dire than death.
A study done in Italy cited that Covid-19 causes Erectile Dysfunction in men post-infection. The study was titled ‘Mask Up to Keep It Up’ and was published in March of this year in the journal Andrology. The virus affects the cardiovascular system, causing diseases of blood vessels and causes erectile dysfunction and fertility issues in men. The World Journal of Men’s Health also published another study that found the dysfunction of endothelial cells, which may contribute to erectile dysfunction. The study also found the presence of the virus long after the initial infection in the body. The study stated that “Future studies will evaluate novel molecular mechanisms of how Covid-19 infection leads to ED.”
Surely not in India?
Dr S.S. Vasan, DNB Urology/Genitourinary surgery, in an interview, said that he has worked with 8-9 patients that were reportedly suffering from Erectile dysfunction after recovering from Covid-19. Nonetheless, we also have to approach this with caution because correlation does not always mean causation. Studies like these haven’t been done in India, but healthcare practitioners like Dr Vasan have come through virus recovered patients reporting ED. But there is also a need for solid experimental evidence to prove the theory.
He also added that there is a good chance that this could happen because of Covid related vasculitis, affecting the vascular system; it does not have to be the penis specifically; any organ with the same artery size can be affected, just like the case of Covid Toes.
The association is detected by doing a test to check the endothelial function of the patient. If the test shows a difference in pre and post-Covid and the patient also had ED, then it is correlated with the virus. At this point, it is not known that the dysfunction is temporary or permanent. Doctors are trying to prevent this by prescribing a higher dosage of antioxidants and other medications to treat it.
The Mental Aspect
However, the mental health aspect is also a major component of this issue, often ignored, especially in India. It has been more than a year since the pandemic started and forced people to be cooped up in their homes. People have been experiencing grief from losing loved ones, financial struggles, intimacy issues, loneliness, the absence of personal space in situations where one has to quarantine with a joint family. All these factors severely contribute to the deterioration of one’s mental health, which can also translate into ED in men. But talking about one’s sexual shortcomings and problems is still considered taboo even in the most forward places. These shortcomings are considered as an assault on manhood, hence the stigma.
Men in their 20s and 30s, especially single men, have lost their social life along with their sexual life altogether because of the virus’s repercussions. Married men’s sexual life has been uprooted because of brutal work from home hours.
To fight the issue, one has to fight the stigma and get proper treatment, both physical and mental. Doctors say that popping tablets unnecessarily is not the solution but rather harms men’s fertility. In most cases, mending one’s mental health resolves the issue. If you feel ashamed talking to a doctor about your problems because of societal pressure, don’t. Because your health trumps the stigma
And more importantly, Mask Up To Keep It Up!