"Long Covid," as many folks are calling it, is one of parts of this pandemic that I find most terrifying. Sure, some people who get COVID-19 just have to deal with a "bad cold." But others find themselves suffering from long-term debilitation, with a variety of wild symptoms, and no clear consistency in how or why these lasting effects come about.
Of course, the longer we deal with this, the more data we have to go on. And recently, several studies have pointed to the serious long-term effects of COVID-caused erectile dysfunction. From the Why-Axis Newsletter:
A study published in May demonstrated "the presence of the COVID-19 virus in the penis long after the initial infection in humans." More to the point, the penile tissue of the Covid patients examined in the study showed evidence of vascular damage — perhaps not a surprise, given the disease's well-documented effects on the vascular system elsewhere in the body.
Another paper, published in March, finds some very preliminary evidence that impotence is much more widespread among male Covid survivors than among men with no Covid history. The study examined self-reported responses to a survey administered in Italy in April 2020. The respondents included 25 sexually active men who reported receiving a positive Covid test. The authors compared that cohort to a group of 75 non-patients who were otherwise similar in terms of sexual activity, age, BMI, and mental and physical health.
Among the healthy controls just 9 percent reported erectile problems. But the rate among Covid patients was roughly three times as high, with over a quarter saying they had trouble getting and/or keeping it up.
Why-Axis is written by Christopher Ingraham, who used to be a data visualization expert at places like the Brookings Institute and the Washington Post. So, as a graphic designer, Ingraham came up with this absolutely brilliant chart to help drive the point home that seriously you should get vaccinated:
Truly a work of art.
Covid and impotence: the evidence firms up [Christopher Ingraham / The Why Axis]