Researchers from the University of Miami have discovered that COVID-19 may have a negative effect on male fertility. This finding came about during a series of autopsy studies conducted both in the U.S. and in China.
“The possibility that COVID-19 damages the testes and impacts fertility … warrants gonadal function evaluation in men infected with COVID-19, or who have recovered from COVID-19, and desire fertility,” the Miami team concluded in their report, which was published in the World Journal of Men’s Health.
The Miami study focused on testis tissues from six men who died of COVID-19 and three who died of other causes. Scientists with the university found that three of the patients with the virus had a substantial amount of testis damage, which would impair their ability to produce sperm. Another research team in China corroborated these findings earlier this year during a similar study where it was discovered that the immune system in several deceased male COVID-19 patients had attacked the testes. As a result of this, they developed orchitis, which causes severe inflammation in the testicles. Orchitis causes male infertility or inadequate testosterone production, though infertility is less likely if only one testicle is impacted.
In a separate Chinese study that examined 12 males who died of COVID-19, scientists also found “significant damage” to the basic cellular tissue of the testicles. Additional testing is needed to determine whether or not this damage can be reversed in living patients.
This is just the latest side effect of COVID-19 to be discovered. Other long term effects of the virus include smell and taste problems, acute kidney injury, and Covid toes, causing itchy rashes on the toes and heels.