How does COVID-19 affect male fertility?

July 30, 2021  23:31

The COVID-19 has a negative effect on the male reproductive system, but its function usually recovers over time, Iranian biologists noted in a new study.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus enters host cells by binding to membrane receptors for angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2), so organs containing a large number of cells with ACE2 receptors are especially susceptible to COVID-19. These cells include spermatogonia - stem cells found in male testes; sustentocytes - supporting somatic cells located in the testicular tubules; testosterone-producing Leydig cells; as well as prostate cells.

Researchers from several universities in Iran studied how sperm parameters change in COVID-19 patients. Over the course of four months, they took tests from twenty men who had suffered from moderate covid - with respiratory symptoms, fever, oxygen saturation at 90-93% and lung damage of about 50%.

The results showed that sperm motility was below normal 14 days after diagnosis, but it improved significantly and returned to normal range after 120 days. Several other indicators that showed worsening two weeks after the onset of the disease - sperm oxidative status, sperm motility and DNA integrity, also recovered by the end of the fourth month, although not all participants.

The authors also assessed changes in other parameters affecting reproductive function - sperm concentration, motility, morphology and viability, levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and malondialdehyde (MDA) in semen, and its total antioxidant capacity (OSA). Compared to the first analysis performed on the 14th day, by the 120th day the levels of ROS and MDA remained low, and the TAC value almost recovered.

Based on the results obtained, scientists conclude that the negative effect of coronavirus on male sperm caused by oxidative stress generally decreases 4 months after diagnosis, although in some patients, especially in patients with so-called long-term covid, these effects may persist. and longer.

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