The Covid vaccine is safe for male fertility - not the virus ...

Contrary to many received ideas that run on social networks, there are no scientifically proven cases of erectile dysfunction or male infertility that would be due to the Covid-19 vaccines.

The same cannot be said for SARS-CoV-2. The virus responsible for Covid presents proven risks ...

So far, little work had been done on how viruses or vaccines might affect the male reproductive system. Things are changing, and the first concrete evidence is starting to become available. With my team from the University of Miami, we discovered implications that could potentially affect men of all ages, young and old, who are concerned with fatherhood.

When the virus colonizes the penis and testicles

Director du reproductive urology program from the Miller School of Medicin, I, along with my colleagues, analyzed tissue taken from the testes of six men who died as a result of their infection with Covid-19.

Result: we found the virus itself in one of the samples; we also noted a drop in the number of sperm in half of the cases. In another patient, who survived the infection, a biopsy revealed the persistent presence of the Covid virus in his testes three months after his recovery.

Besides the testicles, Covid also affects the penis itself. We have in fact discovered in two former patients a significant anomaly of the erection probably caused by the infection - in this case by the reduction of the blood flow which it caused in the penis. And again, penile tissue analysis showed the persistence of the virus, seven to nine months after they contracted Covid.

Notably, if one of the patients had to be hospitalized, the other had only presented mild symptoms: which suggests that even a form beforehand mild Covid can lead to severe erectile dysfunction, even after recovery.

Covid virus can be seen by electron microscopy in tissue
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is able to infiltrate our tissues. Especially the male reproductive organs.

NIAID

These findings on SARS-CoV-2 are not entirely surprising to virologists. Other viruses are in fact known to be able to invade the testes and affect spermatogenesis and fertility. One example among others, in a neighboring virus: the 2006 SARS-CoV, which a study revealed to be present in the testes of six deceased patients. Tissue analysis revealed massive cell destruction, and little or more semen.

Virus mumps et Zika can also penetrate the testicles and cause inflammation. And up to 20% of men infected with these two pathogens will see their spermatogenesis decrease.

And the impact of vaccines?

The virus itself is therefore potentially dangerous… but are vaccines therefore of no consequence on male fertility? Additional research carried out on 45 people by my team provides reassuring answers on this point. Both Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines appear safe for the entire male reproductive system, with preservation of the quantity and quality of sperm produced.

So that's another reason for men to get vaccinated: to protect their fertility and sexual functions.

This work on how Covid-19 affects male reproduction is only in its early stages, with few individuals still being studied. We must therefore go further.

Nonetheless, for those who have had the Covid and subsequently experienced testicular pain, it is reasonable to assume that the virus has reached the sexual tissues. Dysfunctions that may result, consult a urologist may be considered.

Vaccination of a man
Among people vaccinated against Covid, men remain in the minority.

Steven Cornfield / Unsplash

I also think that research delivers an important and urgent public health message in the United States with regard to the development of vaccination against Covid-19. For the million American men who have yet to receive a dose of vaccine, it would be advisable to consider the consequences if this particularly aggressive virus finds you… (Editor's note: In France, it should be noted that less than half of people vaccinated are men.)

One of the obstacles to male vaccination is the idea that vaccination will degrade their fertility. Our research proves the opposite: there is no scientific evidence that the vaccine could affect their reproductive system. Conversely, not getting vaccinated and catching the Covid is not without risk ...

Ranjith Ramasamy, Associate Professor of Urology, University of Miami

This article is republished from The Conversation under Creative Commons license. Read theoriginal article.

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