Medical researchers from the Department of Urology at the University Of Miami Miller School of Medicine have uncovered the ultimate motivation for men to get vaccinated against Covid-19. A new study shows long-term damage to the penis long after Covid-19 infections.
The Urology department pilot study sought to analyze penile tissue of men who recovered from symptomatic COVID-19 infection and developed erectile dysfunction (ED) after the infection.
The small study evaluated penile tissue collected from four men scheduled for penile prosthesis surgery due to erectile dysfunction. Two men had a history of Covid-19 infection, and the other two men had no history of illness.
Covid-19 is known to cause widespread damage to blood vessels throughout the body. SARS-CoV-2 causes damage to the cell layer lining blood vessels called endothelial cells. Endothelial cells contain two components that SARS-CoV-2 needs to infect cells. The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds to specialized receptors called ACE-2 and enters cells containing an enzyme called TMPRSS-2. Blood vessels have a high number of both ACE-2 receptors and TMPRSS-2.
The Miami research team hypothesized that endothelial damage in penile tissue could be the cause of post-Covid-19 erectile dysfunction.
The researchers evaluated penile tissue collected from four men scheduled for penile prosthesis surgery to test the theory of post-Covid-19 erectile dysfunction. Two of the men had a history of Covid-19 infection. One had a severe disease requiring hospitalization. One had a mild case. These two cases were compared to a control group of two men who had no history of infection.
The paper is titled, “COVID-19 Endothelial Dysfunction Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction: Histopathological, Immunohistochemical, and Ultrastructural Study of the Human Penis.”
Urologists took biopsies from an area of the penis called the corpus cavernosum. A variety of tests were performed to evaluate cellular changes in the tissue. Damage to the penile vascular from Covid-19 could explain new onset erectile dysfunction after infection.
Cross-section of penile anatomyPhoto: Mcstrother Creative Commons