The Sexual Long COVID (SLC): Erectile Dysfunction as a Biomarker of Systemic Complications for COVID-19 Long Haulers

Andrea Sansone, Daniele Mollaioli, Erika Limoncin, Giacomo Ciocca, Nguyễn Hoài Bắc, Thắng Nguyễn Cao, Guangdong Hou, Jianlin Yuan, Michael Zitzmann, Annamaria Giraldi, Emmanuele A Jannini

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Long term complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2, involve many organ systems, dramatically worsening the quality of life, and finally contributing to impaired physical functioning. Despite the presence of well-identified pathogenetic mechanisms, the effect of "Long COVID" on sexual health has been only marginally addressed.

OBJECTIVES: To provide coverage of the current literature on long COVID, its epidemiology, pathophysiology, and relevance for erectile function.

METHODS: Comprehensive review of literature pertaining to the epidemiology and pathophysiology of long COVID, and its relevance for erectile function.

RESULTS: Symptoms of long COVID are highly prevalent and involve almost all systems of the human body, with a plethora of clinical manifestations which range from minor nuisances to life-threatening conditions. "Brain fog" and fatigue are the most common complaints, although other neuropsychiatric complications, including sensory dysfunctions, anxiety, depression, and cerebrovascular events have also been reported. The respiratory and cardiovascular systems are also affected, with dyspnea, pulmonary fibrosis, endothelial dysfunction, and myocarditis occurring in some COVID long haulers. A subset of patients might develop endocrine manifestations, including onset of diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, and hypogonadism. Overall, long COVID features many complications which can impair erectile function by multiple pathogenetic mechanisms, and which could require tailored treatment: (i) careful investigation and management from the sexual medicine expert are therefore much needed, (ii) and future research on this topic is warranted.

CONCLUSION: in COVID-19 long haulers, several complications can adversely affect erectile function which, upon future tailored studies, could be used as biomarker for the severity of the long COVID disease and for its follow-up. Sansone A, Mollaioli D, Limoncin E et al. The Sexual Long COVID (SLC): Erectile Dysfunction as a Biomarker of Systemic Complications for COVID-19 Long Haulers. Sex Med Rev 2022;10:271-285.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSexual Medicine Reviews
Volume10
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)271-285
Number of pages15
ISSN2050-0513
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Biomarkers
  • COVID-19/complications
  • Erectile Dysfunction/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life/psychology
  • SARS-CoV-2

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