Ask Dr. K: Covid Does WHAT? What the experts are saying about an ED-Coronavirus connection.

Updated: Mar 17, 2021


Covid-19 and Erectile Dysfunction
Photo credit: Huffington Post

We are pretty familiar with the symptoms of COVID-19 infections-fever, cough, loss of taste and smell, breathing problems. With the increasing number of cases and high survival rates, we are now becoming aware of some of the short-term and long-term effects of the virus. One of these effects appears to be erectile dysfunction (ED).

How can the COVID-19 virus lead to ED? Research on the virus has shown that it can attack the lining of the walls of blood vessels. This can lead to inflammation in the blood vessels causing problems with blood flow and clotting. Since poor blood flow is the primary issue in ED, it seems likely that ED would be an effect of the virus. In a recent article by Lindsay Holmes, on Huffington Post, Christopher Kyle, a urologist in Oregon, explains, “Anything that degrades blood vessels or impedes how freely blood flows throughout all parts of the body will almost assuredly have an impact on the ability to achieve an erection.”

Kyle’s theory is that the COVID-19 virus can cause damage to the lining of the blood vessels-endothelial dysfunction-and that this leads to problems with blood flow. Endothelial dysfunction is also caused by diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure which are linked to ED. More data needs to be accumulated as to the association of COVID-19 and ED and whether this is a short-term problem or long-term issue.

Fortunately, there are treatments available for ED associated with endothelial dysfunction. Oral and topical medications or penile injections may help correct the symptoms of ED but do not help correct the endothelial damage which is the cause of the ED. Low intensity shockwave therapy (Li-SWT) has been shown to repair the endothelial damage and restore blood flow in the penis of men who have conditions shown to be causes of ED. Li-SWT is a non-invasive and safe form of treatment. If the theory about COVID-19 causing endothelial dysfunction is correct, then it appears probable that Li-SWT could be used to prevent and treat ED in COVID-19 infection survivors.