Israeli researchers discover huge drop in fertility for those who were seriously ill with the disease, especially young men.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Researchers in Israel have discovered that coronavirus attacks the reproductive system in men and may have long-term detrimental effects.
The team, headed by doctors at Sheba Medical Center, examined the long-term symptoms experienced by men infected with coronavirus and published their initial findings in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility.
The study found that 19% of the male participants surveyed about symptoms they experienced reported feeling “discomfort in the testicles” when they were sick with coronavirus.
Doctors found a 50% decrease in the quality and quantity of sperm of those who had been moderately or severely ill, compared to those with only mild symptoms.
“Already five months ago we saw the first hints of this and questions arose as to whether coronavirus impairs male fertility,” Prof. Dan Aderka told Channel 12. “In patients who died from corona and underwent an autopsy, damage was found to the sperm ducts and testicles.”
It is also known the virus can cause long-term damage to lung, heart and kidney function.
“Common to all these organs is that they have a receptor with which the virus enters the cells and infects them,” Prof. Aderka explained. “The same receptor is also found in the testicle and cells that help mature the sperm and encourage its division. If there is damage to these cells because the virus infects them – we see a slowdown in sperm formation. The amount of receptor is higher in young men compared to adults, therefore, impaired fertility of young men will be more common.”
Aderka said that for women, the same receptor exists in the placenta and could lead to more miscarriages and more premature births, but they found the decrease in women is less than in men.
“The male hormone indirectly helps the virus to bind to its receptor and enter the cells. It also explains why men are twice as sick as women and men’s mortality is higher,” Adkerka noted.
The hospital is expecting to run a new longer-term study to determine whether the damage to male fertility is temporary or permanent.
“We do not know whether these damages are reversible or not, because there has not yet been enough time to monitor patients.” Prof. Aderka said. “So we decided to launch a study that will follow patients who recover from Corona for several months to know if anyone becomes sterile or, for some patients, if the process of declining fertility is reversible.”