Can COVID-19 Affect your Reproductive Organs?

Information about COVID-19 continues to evolve, and we learn new things about it all the time. Because we know that seasonal flu and other viruses with high fevers tend to negatively impact male fertility, there’s been concern that this may be true of COVID-19 as well. Recent evidence seems to indicate that this concern is valid.

One reason that viruses are thought to be harmful to a man’s fertility is that high fevers heat the testicles and damage sperm. For weeks or even months after recovering from influenza, for example, patients may experience abnormal sperm as well as a decrease in sperm count, motility, and genetic health. Since a major symptom of COVID-19 is a high fever, it’s not a leap to assume that the same will be true of that illness. Fortunately, though they may linger, the affects of a fever on male fertility are still temporary and fully reversible.

The information we have about COVID-19, however, is still evolving. Because we’re in the early days of understanding this illness, it could be a long time before we truly understand who is at risk, how and when problems develop, how quickly they resolve, and whether they persist. There are a few different aspects of COVID-19 that researchers are looking at closely in regard to male fertility.

A big question is whether the virus gets into the testicles. If it does, then the question becomes one of how long it remains and how much it damages the cells that produce sperm and testosterone. Recent research done by American, Chinese, and European scientists indicates that many COVID-19 patients have significant testicular cell damage without the virus actually being present in the testicles themselves. How could this be?

One thing raising concerns among researchers is the protein enzyme to which the coronavirus binds, known as ACE2. This enzyme is on the surface of many cells in the blood vessels, heart, lungs, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive orders, and it provides a gateway for the virus to infect these cells. Because the testes have high levels of ACE2, they’re likely to be affected. Studies have demonstrated that the virus affects hormone levels, diminishes sperm quality and concentration, and can reduce semen volume.

The good news it that COVID-19 does not seem to be sexually transmittable. As to long-term effects, there’s no way to know at this point whether the damage done by the virus is reversible. For men who have had COVID-19, it’s advisable to see a urologist about any reproductive concerns.

If you’re interested in reversing your vasectomy and you’re looking for an experienced professional surgical team, the Center for Vasectomy Reversal is here for you. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website, or call 941-894-6428 for a free consultation.