Male Fertility And The COVID-19 Pandemic
New study has revealed that coronavirus could cause male infertility, men who suffer severe cases of the coronavirus may experience reduced fertility, even if they only suffer a mild form of the disease.
And Dr Dan Aderka of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel, screened healthy men for evidence of Covid-19 and discovered that in some cases the virus made its way into the sperm. So, he reported there was a 50% decrease in sperm volume, concentration and motility.
Although scientists said that the truth on whether Covid-19 permanently damages fertility is still cloudy, and that even flu causes a temporary drop in sperm counts.
And according to the Israeli study, sperm counts of infected men halved 30 days after they were diagnosed with Covid-19.
Also, Aderka told the Jerusalem Post that a “normal sperm maturation takes 70 to 75 days, it is possible that if we are doing a sperm examination two and a half months after recovery, we may see even more reduced fertility.”
What Is Male Infertility
Male infertility is any health challenge in a man that lowers the chances of his female partner getting pregnant.
And it means you cannot start a pregnancy with your female partner. And about 13 out of 100 couples can’t get pregnant with unprotected sex.
Also, there are many causes for infertility in men and women such as sperm disorders or blocks the genital tract can stop the flow of semen.
So, in over a third of infertility cases, the problem is with the man.
Does Coronavirus Really Affect Fertility?
Scientists has made similar claim in the past regarding the effect of coronavirus on fertility, but there is yet to be any firm proof to back up the claim.
Because, men having lower sperm counts are likely down to them having had a fever, and this makes it harder for the body to produce sperm, but production can bounce back after an infection has passed.
Professor Allan Pacey, an andrologist at the University of Sheffield and former chair of the British Fertility Society, inform MailOnline that he wouldn’t be surprised if coronavirus caused a temporary drop in sperm production.
Also, the jury is still out on whether or not the effect could be long-lasting, harming the fertility of men.
He said that ‘people who get coronavirus are probably quite unwell, even influenza will cause a decline in sperm count temporarily,’
And their question is whether coronavirus could cause male infertility is permanent and whether it is recoverable.
So, study is yet to confirm whether long-term damage can be caused to testicles by coronavirus, and it could take several years before scientists have the answer.
But research has earlier indicated that any damage caused to the testes by an infection is not long-term.
However, professor Pacey cautioned against this discovery that coronavirus could cause male infertility in the new Israeli research that coronavirus can damage cells in the testicles responsible for making semen and the male hormone testosterone.
Furthermore, professor Pacey pointed out that deceased patients would have been much sicker than the average infected man, and are likely to have been older, which would also cause a drop in the amount of sperm they produce.
He also made the finding less appealing that 13 per cent of sperm samples taken of infected men contained the virus, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.
‘I think that’s very difficult to prove and I’d like to read the paper,’ he said.
‘We’ve done work on other viruses, for example chlamydia, a bacteria that behaves like a virus, and it’s really difficult to prove if the virus is inside the sperm.’
And we know that the virus, scientifically called SARS-CoV-2, could be passed through kissing during sex.
Dr Aderka, from the Sheba Medical Center, who carried out the study, claimed that coronavirus could harm the testicles by binding to the ACE2 receptors on their cells.
These receptors, which act as a gateway for the virus to enter cells, are the same as those on the lungs, heart and intestines.
Although, scientists have already pointed out that to do this the coronavirus would need to enter the bloodstream, and there’s no ‘clear mechanism’ for it to do this.
And professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline in April that coronaviruses do not generally travel in the blood.
Also, he said that ‘the main site of virus replication is the respiratory tract,’ ‘(Travel in the bloodstream) has been reported for the virus but it is not generally what coronaviruses do.’
Professor Pacey said he can’t see a mechanism whereby coronavirus would become blood-borne. ‘I may be wrong, this is a new virus, we’re learning all the time,’ he said.
Also, recent study suggest that COVID-19 could possibly affect fertility in male patients and be transmitted sexually.
And the study conducted by researchers in Shangqiu, China, involved analysis of semen samples from 38 male COVID-19 patients, and showed that the virus was present in the semen of six patients (15%), according to a research letter published in JAMA Network Open.
So, according to the researchers, four of the patients whose semen contained COVID-19 were in the acute stage of infection, and two were in recovery, which the authors said was “particularly noteworthy.”
And the authors wrote that “Further studies are required with respect to the detailed information about virus shedding, survival time, and concentration in semen.”
Also, “If it could be proved that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted sexually in future studies, sexual transmission might be a critical part of the prevention of transmission, especially considering the fact that SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the semen of recovering patients.”