COVID-19 News: Groundbreaking Danish Study Shows Than Men With Mild COVID-19 Infections Still Ended Up With Impaired Testicular Function!
Besides Lower Testosterone Levels, Many Also Had Lower Insulin-Like Factor 3 (INSL3) levels!
: A groundbreaking study conducted by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark has sent shockwaves throughout various communities, revealing that even men who experienced only mild cases of COVID-19 are at risk of suffering from impaired testicular function. The study, which examined the long-term effects of the virus on reproductive health, shed light on the alarming consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection on male fertility. Among the significant findings were lowered testosterone levels and diminished insulin-like factor 3 (INSL3) levels, signaling potential long-lasting impacts on testicular function. These study findings raise serious concerns about the broader reproductive health implications of COVID-19.
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The study enrolled 36 non-hospitalized men with mild COVID-19 symptoms, with a median age of 29 years. Participants were included within seven days of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests. The study assessed reproductive hormone levels, semen parameters, and the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in both oropharyngeal and semen samples. Data were collected during acute infection (baseline) and at three- and six-month follow-up periods.
The results of the study were staggering. During acute SARS-CoV-2 infection, participants experienced significantly lower levels of plasma testosterone (both total and calculated free), accompanied by elevated luteinizing hormone (LH) concentrations. This imbalance resulted in lower ratios of calculated free testosterone to LH during the acute phase compared to the follow-up periods (P < 0.001 and P = 0.003, respectively). Furthermore, the study revealed a decrease in INSL3 concentrations during the acute phase compared to the three-month follow-up (P = 0.01).
Notably, the total number of motile spermatozoa was significantly reduced during the acute phase compared to the six-month follow-up (P = 0.02). Intriguingly, these effects were observed regardless of whether the individuals experienced fever episodes related to SARS-CoV-2 infection, implying that testicular function could be impacted directly by the virus.
Reassuringly, the study found no detectable presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in semen samples at any time point, indicating a low risk of viral transmission through this route. (Note: there are other previous studies and COVID-19 News
reports that however contradict this observation.)
Implications and Future Research
This groundbreaking study highlights the critical importance of understanding the long-term effects of COVID-19, even in cases classified as mild. Impaired testicular function resulting from SARS-CoV-2 infection raises concerns about fertility and reproductive health in affected men. As COVID-19 continues to affect millions worldwide, these findings necessitate further research
and attention from medical professionals and policymakers.
The effects of impaired testicular functions also extend beyond reproductive health as androgens which are also needed for other important processes and functions in the body are downregulated as well.
Researchers involved in the study emphasize that febrile episodes related to COVID-19 may exacerbate the impact on testicular function, yet the direct influence of SARS-CoV-2 on testicular tissue cannot be excluded. Continued investigation into the mechanisms behind these effects is crucial to developing appropriate preventive and treatment strategies.
As this Danish study gains global attention, it serves as a stark reminder of the potential long-term consequences of COVID-19 on male reproductive health. Urgent action is required to deepen our understanding of the virus's impact and develop interventions to mitigate these effects.
Furthermore, this research highlights the significance of routine screenings and assessments of reproductive health in men who have had COVID-19, regardless of symptom severity. By identifying and addressing potential fertility concerns early on, healthcare professionals can offer appropriate support and guidance to affected individuals.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Andrology (Wiley) but is unfortunately behind a paywall.
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