COVID-19 infection may lead to fertility problem in men

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a recent study published in Reproduction, researchers found that COVID-19 may negatively affect sperm quality and reduce fertility in men.

They showed that COVID-19 infection can cause increased sperm cell death, inflammation, and oxidative stress, resulting in lower sperm quality and potentially reducing fertility.

The study is from Justus-Liebig-University and was conducted by Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki et al.

COVID-19 is a coronavirus that causes respiratory illness and in older people, or those with particular underlying medical problems, the infection can be severe and even lead to death.

The disease is predominantly transmitted through respiratory droplets that infect the lungs, kidneys, intestines and heart.

However, other research has found that it can infect the male reproductive organs, impairing sperm cell development and disrupting reproductive hormones.

In the study, the team examined the effect of COVID-19 infection on male fertility by evaluating markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, sperm cell death and semen quality.

They tested 84 men with confirmed COVID-19 and 105 age-matched healthy men. A urology expert determined that all the men were fertile.

The team found that in men with COVID-19, markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in sperm cells were strongly increased by more than 100% compared to age-matched healthy controls, pathways that facilitate sperm cell death were activated, and sperm concentration was reduced by 516%, mobility by 209% and sperm cell shape was altered by 400%.

This state shows oligoasthenoteratozoospermia, which is one of the most common causes of subfertility in men.

The term oligoasthenoteratozoospermia, or OAT, is used when all three of the following factors are present: An abnormally low level of sperm of a healthy shape (teratozoospermia), An abnormally low amount of sperm (oligozoospermia), An abnormally low amount of sperm with good motility (asthenozoospermia).

These effects on sperm cells are linked to lower sperm quality and reduced fertility potential.

Although these effects tended to improve over time, they remained strongly and abnormally higher in the COVID-19 patients, and the magnitude of these changes was also related to disease severity.

These findings add to the current understanding of the disease and suggest that men recovering from COVID-19 may find it harder to conceive, due to abnormally low sperm quality.

The team says men’s reproductive function should be monitored and evaluated by health professionals following infection, to detect and avoid more severe reproduction problems in the future.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about drug duo that could help cure COVID-19, and green tea may offer new hope to beat COVID-19.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about the cause of severe inflammation in COVID-19, and results showing new way to prevent broad range of COVID-19 variants.

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