Impaired male reproductive function, lower testosterone levels and risk of sexual transmission. Here are some possible consequences of the coronavirus on the male sex glands.
The first results were obtained by researchers from the Cell Biology Laboratory of the Institute of Biological Sciences (ICB), Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), on the consequences of the coronavirus observed in human testicles.
The testicles of 11 men who died of ovid-19 between January and March 2021 were studied. They had not yet been immunized because the vaccine was not yet available.
The researchers identified that the patients had the active and infecting virus in the testicles 26 days after infection with Covid-19.
The data suggests that the testicular microenvironment functions as a kind of reservoir where the virus is protected.
Guilherme Matos, a professor at the ICB, explains that the testicle tends to prevent the body’s defense cells from attacking what is produced inside.
“The coronavirus takes advantage of this favorable environment to attack the cells that produce spermatozoa”, specifies the professor.
(Institute of Biological Sciences / UFMG / Diffusion)
Besides the permanence of the virus longer in the body, there is always the possibility of contamination of the semen, according to the researcher.
Early research results reveal that the consequences are daunting, such as tissue inflammation, causing hemorrhage and fibrosis similar to that which occurs in the lungs.
“Hence the concern about the possibility of sperm contamination in patients with Covid-19 and the delay in viral elimination from the body”, underlines the professor.
Another consequence of this “viral attack” is the drop in testosterone levels. “The drop can be up to 30 times. It’s impactful because it’s directly linked to libido and sexual activity,” he adds.
The research results may also be important for the adoption of antiviral therapies capable of preventing the virus from replicating in the testicles. According to the researcher, “this viral attack causes vascular changes in the testicles, which can compromise the fertility of patients who have had covid-19”.
Scientists still cannot say whether Covid-19 virus infection in semen can be sexually transmitted. “This is a question that deserves further investigation,” concludes Guilherme Matos.
Results in vaccinated patients are already being analyzed.