Covid-19 and ED

COVID-19 and Erectile Dysfunction: 6 Factors

Last Updated – January 9, 2023

Common COVID-19 symptoms include breathing difficulties, extreme fatigue, and the loss of taste or smell, with possible long-term impacts on a person’s health.

More recently, researchers have also found troubling links between COVID-19 and erectile dysfunction. For example, researchers estimate that ED is nearly six times as likely in men who’ve had COVID-19. While this statistic is concerning, let’s explain the main factors putting men at risk of ED following COVID.

Post-COVID ED risk factors

Factor 1: Cardiovascular Problems

Men may suffer from ED as an early sign of heart disease, while COVID-19 research also shows risks to heart health when the virus causes inflammation to the heart muscle, blood vessels, and veins.

COVID-19 can also lead to endothelial dysfunction, making the inner lining of blood vessels constrict instead of dilating and contracting for proper blood flow. As a result, blood cannot pump correctly throughout the body. This dysfunction may affect the tissues within the penis, making it difficult for men to get or maintain an erection.

A study in the World Journal of Men’s Health describes two men recovering from COVID-19 who treated their ED with penile prosthesis surgery. Both men had experienced normal erections before their COVID infections.

One man had contracted a severe case of COVID-19 and was hospitalized for two weeks. While this man recovered from the more common symptoms of COVID, he began experiencing ED afterward.

The other man experienced a milder case of COVID-19, but he had suffered from clogged arteries and high blood pressure before contracting the COVID virus.

Physical examinations of both men showed COVID-19 particles lingering in tissues around their penises. Both men also showed evidence of endothelial dysfunction.

The study compared these two men to two other men who were COVID-free but also having surgery for erectile dysfunction. The COVID-free men showed no traces of any damage to the small blood vessels surrounding their penises.

Factor 2: Lower Testosterone

Men need testosterone in their bodies to produce an erection, and researchers linking ED with COVID suggest that COVID-19 can negatively impact the testosterone hormone. 

COVID-19 studies show the virus possibly decreasing testosterone levels in a man’s body. It could also affect male fertility, although research has yet to prove this.

Scientists know that COVID-19 enters the body within a protein called ACE2, and this protein is found naturally within a man’s testes. So if ACE2 containing the COVID-19 virus infects the testosterone and sperm within a man’s testes, the virus could harm erections and possibly decrease male fertility rates.

Further studies of low testosterone and COVID-19 in men show additional risks. Men with lower testosterone levels have a higher likelihood of experiencing more severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Factor 3: Mental Health Concerns

Erectile Dysfunction and mental health

Good mental health is closely tied to healthy sexual activity, and when our mental health is suffering, it could affect sexual performance. For example, a recent study showed that 68% of affected adults admitted to mental health issues during the global pandemic.

The COVID-19 virus causes mild to severe physical symptoms and can also contribute to stress levels, anxiety issues, and depression. These effects on mental health can contribute to sexual dysfunction, and in men, mental health risks can trigger a negative self-image and an increased risk of ED.

Factor 4: Overall Health Problems

Health experts say that ED can be a symptom of more serious, underlying health problems. Medical research also shows that men who are in poorer health are at greater risk of both ED and a more serious reaction to COVID-19.

If a young, supposedly healthy man develops erectile dysfunction soon after recovering from any form of COVID-19, it could signal a more serious health problem. So please don’t suffer in silence for months! It’s important to get a medical opinion early on when you suspect erectile dysfunction after COVID-19.

Factor 5: Blood Oxygen Levels Negatively Impacted

COVID-19 sometimes causes pneumonia resulting in lung damage, and it can decrease the amount of oxygen in a person’s bloodstream. In addition, it can affect a man’s ability to have an erection. A well-established study found reduced oxygen levels in their blood puts men at a greater risk of ED.

Factor 6: A Decreased Sense of Smell

It’s also well-documented that COVID-19 can negatively impact the sense of smell. But did you know how important the sense of smell is to arousal? This olfactory study shows how the sense of smell is directly related to successful, satisfying erections.

Are There Any Effects of COVID-19 On Male Fertility?

Covid-19 vs. male fertility

Almost three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, experts are still unravelling the coronavirus impacts on every part of a man’s body, including male reproductive organs.

There is some evidence based on recent research that COVID-19 might negatively impact male fertility, at least in the short term.

More than 2,100 couples were studied in an American Journal of Epidemiology study published in January 2022. Although COVID-19 did not affect female fertility, it decreased male fertility. Men who had COVID-19 within the last 60 days had a 20 percent lower chance of conceiving than men who didn’t.

According to Dr. Easley, who works at the University of Georgia School of Public Health in Athens, viruses enter cells through different receptors. In COVID-19, two proteins are targeted: ACE2 and TMPRSS2

The testes, the organs responsible for making sperm, include both. Proteins like these are also present in testicular cells called Sertoli cells. They form a physical barrier between blood vessels and the testes. As the virus latches on to these proteins, many Sertoli cells’ functions are disrupted.

“When Sertoli cells are damaged, spermiogenesis cannot be promoted; therefore, there is no real sperm,” the doctor explains.

What Can You Do?

Erectile dysfunction caused by COVID-19 can be short-term or longer-lasting. Medical experts don’t yet know if male fertility can be seriously affected by the virus, and any long-lasting damage is still being researched.

How to lower ED risks?

The good news is, you can greatly lower your risks! Here are important steps to take:

  • Get fully vaccinated for COVID-19. There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes ED or makes ED worse in men who may have it.
  • Follow all prevention guidelines (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines) to ensure you prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Measure sperm count and motility. It is vital for men struggling to conceive after a COVID-19 infection.

The best step you can take if you’re concerned about ED after having COVID-19 is to contact us at Oakwood Health Network. Our ED specialists will determine the cause of your ED problems, and a treatment plan can be designed specifically for you.

Amelia K Wesselink, Elizabeth E Hatch, Kenneth J Rothman, Tanran R Wang, Mary D Willis, Jennifer Yland, Holly M Crowe, Ruth J Geller, Sydney K Willis, Rebecca B Perkins, Annette K Regan, Jessica Levinson, Ellen M Mikkelsen, Lauren A Wise, A Prospective Cohort Study of COVID-19 Vaccination, SARS-CoV-2 Infection, and Fertility, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 191, Issue 8, August 2022, Pages 1383–1395,

Sullivan, K. (2022) Covid-19 and sex: What men need to know, Available at: (Accessed: December 19, 2022).