“There are a lot of young men all of a sudden because of the COVID-19 pandemic are having issues with fertility”
Pinto stresses need to take preventative steps; encourages vaccination
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A less commonly known long-term side effect of contracting COVID-19 could be a complete lack of performance in the bedroom, according to prevailing studies and a local urology specialist.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, renowned Urologist and Laparoscopic Surgeon Dr Greggory Pinto of the Family Medicine Center on Blake Road said recovered COVID-19 patients in their 20s and 30s in The Bahamas have experienced erectile dysfunction months after being infected and recovering.
He also noted studies have been conclusive on testicular issues, including fertility.
“I think if a lot of men knew from the onset of this pandemic that your erectile function could be permanently, irreversibly damaged [and] their fertility level could be impaired, possibly permanently, that in and of itself would of cause a lot of men to be more conscious of social distancing, in terms of wearing a mask, in terms of hand hygiene,” Pinto said.
“The virus affects erectile function in many ways.
“First of all, when you’re exposed to the virus, it’s a massive inflammatory response involving all of the bodily systems, all the bodily organs.
“…The body has never seen this virus before, so it’s going to have a non-specific, massive inflammatory reaction trying to fight off this virus.
“The first thing that is going to happen is you’re going to have damage to the endothelial lining of the blood vessels.
“There is a protective lining of the blood vessels called glycocalyx. Unfortunately, that is going to be damaged.
“So, in essence, you’re going to have impaired blood supply to your [genitals].”
A study published in the World Journal of Men’s Health in May studied penile tissue of two recovered COVID-19 patients undergoing penile prosthesis surgery for their severe erectile dysfunction, and compared them to two men with erectile dysfunction who had never been infected with the virus.
Both men had normal erectile function prior to contracting the virus.
One had a severe case of COVID-19 and required hospitalization for two weeks before recovering, but was free from chronic health problems.
The other had mild symptoms, but experienced clogged arteries and high blood pressure before becoming infected.
The study found the presence of COVID-19 in the men’s genitals long after the initial infection, concluding that that widespread endothelial cell dysfunction from the virus could contribute to erectile dysfunction.
According to Pinto, prevailing studies and local prevalence should be another motivating factor for vaccination to prevent infection in the first place, though he said there are treatments available ranging from boosting testosterone levels to surgically implanting a penile prosthesis that is minimally invasive and undetectable even upon examination.
“Many studies have unfortunately shown that you may recover or you may be asymptomatic for COVID-19, but many months later, I’ve seen men in the early 20s, 30s — they’ve recovered from COVID-19 and they’re presently negative — but eight months later, nine months later, they’re still having profound erectile dysfunction,” he said.
“There has been an onslaught locally, internationally and many of my colleagues have also remarked there are many urological journals pointing that out as well.
“There are a lot of young men all of a sudden because of the COVID-19 pandemic are having issues with fertility.”
Pinto encouraged Bahamians to get vaccinated, noting it is the best way to get back to normalcy and develop herd immunity, as well as guarding against long-term health impacts such as erectile dysfunction.