After an unprecedented few years of nationwide lockdowns, rigorous handwashing, and mandatory face masks, COVID-19 is now part of everyday life. With the remarkable vaccines protecting most of us from severe symptoms, it represents a major turning point when it comes to combating the virus.
We’ve certainly come a long way in our understanding and treatment of the virus, but there’s still a lot to learn. One particular area of concern are the potential long-term effects of COVID-19 that have been reported and observed by many people . Some of the symptoms of the illness, such as fatigue and joint pain, can persist in individuals even after they’ve initially recovered. But there are also some worrying unexpected health consequences of the virus, such as an increasing number of experts starting to think that COVID-19 could even cause erectile dysfunction (ED) .
On the face of it, it might seem unlikely that an illness such as COVID-19 could in any way affect erectile function or sexual health in general. But there are actually plenty of reasons why it could.
For one, achieving erections requires unimpeded blood flow to the penis. Any disruptions to this blood flow, such as those caused by inflammation, can make it significantly more difficult to get hard and stay hard. This is why conditions such as high pressure and high cholesterol are considered physical causes of ED; if your cardiovascular health is compromised, so are erections. This can also be related to long-term conditions such as diabetes. Lifestyle choices such as smoking and alcohol consumption are also known causes of ED.
When battling COVID-19, your immune system can induce hyperinflammation in response to the infection. If this inflammation continues as a long-term effect after initial recovery, then this could be a significant cause of ED.
Other potential long-term effects of COVID-19 include psychological changes such as ‘brain fog’, stress, low mood, and fatigue, which are known as emotional causes of ED.
Obviously in the short term, COVID-19 can have more severe consequences than ED to think about. However, developing long lasting erectile dysfunction can seriously affect your sexual health, relationships and mental health. If you’re concerned about developing ED from COVID-19, or are currently suffering from the condition, it’s important to know that it can be treated effectively.
In terms of medication, there are a variety of options to choose from. ED pills can help to relax blood vessels within the penis, aiding erections when sexually aroused. Options include:
• Sildenafil, a cheaper, generic version of Viagra that works the same way
• Cialis Once Daily, a treatment taken every day that allows for spontaneous sexual activity
• Daily exercise to help with cardiovascular health
• Weight loss if you’re overweight
ED is one of the potential, but rare, after effects of a COVID-19 infection. But if you do catch the virus, you’re far more likely to experience one of the following COVID-19 symptoms:
• A high temperature, with your chest and back being hot to the touch
• A new, frequent and continuous dry cough
• A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should request an NHS test, and abide by current government regulations.
Some people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t experience any noticeable symptoms from the illness. However, they can still transmit the disease to others.
It’s also important to remember that the common cold and seasonal flu haven’t gone away, which can sometimes present similarly to COVID-19. As always, take precautions and make sure you have relief tablets to hand, such as Echinacea cold & flu tablets.
The region in which you live will have its own rules and regulations regarding the pandemic, but there are some general precautions you can always follow:
• Try and stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you don’t live or people from outside your support bubble
• Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and for at least 20 seconds, and/or make use of 70+% alcohol hand gel or hand sanitiser.
Make use of protective equipment when in public spaces, such as face masks that cover your nose and mouth and disposable gloves.