With all the talk of COVID-19 damaging your lungs, heart and even toes, one other body part has been left out of the headlines—but it is at risk of injury: the testicles.
“A new study from Chinese and American researchers reveals that the new coronavirus could potentially injure testicles without infecting its cells,” reports the Science Times. “After careful analysis of patient samples from Wuhan, the researchers discovered that the virus caused ‘ballooning’ changes and attacked cells responsible for producing sperm.”
The Warning Signs
The link between COVID-19 and the testicles has been a focus since the virus started spreading. Since men seem to be more affected by COVID-19 than women, doctors started to wonder what the difference was. A different study in China a month ago showed one in five men claimed they had “scrotal discomfort” and, in the United States, according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, a man in his forties went to the ER complaining of “constant stabbing pain that originated from his groin.” He later tested positive for coronavirus.
“High expression of ACE2 in testes raises the possibility that testicular viral reservoirs may play a role in viral persistence in males and should be further investigated,” reported a study in medRxiv.
How COVID-19 Infects the Testicles
“Scientists believe that the reaction was culminated by the virus clinging onto an enzyme on the cell’s surface,” reports the Times. “On the contrary, almost no viral genes were detected in the semen and testicular tissue of patient samples. These findings suggest that a sexually transmitted infection did not cause the effects.”
Since it’s not sexually-transmitted, there is no danger in the sperm itself. “Sperm donation or an impregnation plan could be considered during convalescence for Covid-19 patients,” the researchers concluded in European Urology Focus. The peer-reviewed paper was published Sunday.
However, you could still spread COVID-19 to your sexual partner in the known ways—even if you test negative. “If you and a partner test negative to COVID-19, you were not infected at the time you took the test,” says Dr. Deborah Lee, a sexual health expert and medical writer at Dr Fox Online Pharmacy. “However, it is always possible you could have become infected since the test was taken. Continually following the safety rules of staying at home, hand-washing and social distancing are vital.”
If you are experiencing scrotal discomfort, call your medical professional immediately. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.