Coronavirus warning: New study suggests COVID-19 could cause sexual health problems in men
Coronavirus has brought more misery to the UK today, claiming the lives of a further 181 people in the last 24 hours, the biggest daily rise yet. The only consolation that can be taken from the pathogen’s destruction is that it leaves evidence at its crime scenes. These pieces of evidence are then analysed in real-time by leading scientists to understand more about the threat humanity currently faces.
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A new study has shed further light on the effects of the coronavirus on men.
Blood samples from Covid-19 patients in a small-scale study indicate what could be a testicle malfunction.
In a paper published on the preprint research platform medRxiv.org, the researchers – from Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University and the Hubei Clinical Research Centre for Prenatal Diagnosis and Birth Health, analysed blood samples from 81 men aged 20 to 54 who tested positive for the coronavirus and were hospitalised in January.
The average age of the participants was 38 and roughly 90 percent of them had only mild symptoms.
The samples were collected in the last days of their stay in hospital.
Using the samples, the team looked at the ratio of testosterone to luteinising hormone (T/LH).
A low T/LH ratio can be a sign of hypogonadism, which in men is a malfunction of the testicles that could lead to lower sex hormone production.
The average ratio for the Covid-19 patients was 0.74, about half the normal level.
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Common symptoms of hypogonadism in men include abnormally large breasts and erectile dysfunction.
Commenting on their finding, the Wuhan researchers said: “Since more than half of the people with Covid-19 were reproductive-aged, more attention should be paid to the effect of Sars-CoV-2 on the reproductive system, the designated medical term for COVID-19.
They said their results were not conclusive and the blood samples were not direct proof of reproductive problems with Covid-19 patients.
Doctors in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak first began, plan to embark on a long-term study of the effects of the coronavirus on the male reproductive system, building on the small-scale research.
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Previous studies have indicated that the new coronavirus could bind with ACE2, a receptor protein cell, a large number of which are concentrated in the testicles.
Li Yufeng, a professor of reproductive medicine at Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, had predicted in a study that the testicles could become a major target of the coronavirus attack.
Bolstering the link, other studies have also suggested that severe acute respiratory syndrome, or Sars, a distant relative of the new coronavirus, could also cause inflammation in the testicles.
Commenting on the latest findings, a researcher with the State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine at Nanjing Medical University, said the new observations were “highly valuable information” but a bigger sample would be needed to clarify the results.
“Many viruses can affect fertility, but not every virus can cause a pandemic. If the impact is long lasting, it can be a problem,” the researcher said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Coronavirus – what we know so far
Researchers have established that COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
This means maintaining good hygiene practices is absolutely critical to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus.
The NHS says to wash your hands regularly with soapy water for 20 seconds.
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