An expert analyzes the impact of Covid on reproduction

Jeffrey Han

* Viruses that cause febrile illnesses such as chickenpox, flu, and SARS are associated with a decrease in the count and motility of sperm and abnormal morphology

* "According to current literature, it is unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted through semen," urologist François Peinado says

* The University of Oxford demonstrates that ómicron kills 18 times less than the most lethal Covid
Photo byTesticular tissue may be a target tissue for SARS-CoV-2.

One of the main concerns of couples seeking a child is knowing whether the pandemic situation can worsen their fertility status. There are some studies on this, but they are not conclusive. The head of the Urology Service at Ruber Hospital, Dr. François Peinado Ibarra, explains to us that there may be a direct effect of the virus on male reproductive organs because testicular tissue may be a target tissue for SARS-CoV-2 and have detrimental effects on testosterone production, as one of the causes of the decrease in this male sex hormone is acute respiratory infection, also associated with Covid.

Several studies have examined the presence of SARS-CoV2 virus in semen. In almost all studies, viral particles were not found in the semen of men who were acutely infected or recovering. In general, according to current literature, it is unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted through semen, concludes Dr. Peinado, who states that "it is a very important piece of information to consider with regard to reproduction and cryopreservation of sperm, either for intrauterine insemination or for in vitro fertilization using ejaculated sperm from recovered men".

Semen decreases with the virus

Most studies have shown a statistically significant decrease in semen concentration, total sperm count, and total motile sperm count due to the disease, the expert reports. Specifically, he details that in one study, semen parameters returned to normal after an average of 32 days after the diagnosis of COVID-19, and in another study, there were no statistically significant differences in semen parameters between non-infected patients, actively infected patients, and those treated for COVID-19.

On the other hand, another study showed that the severity of infection - whether the patient did not require hospitalization, was hospitalized, or was admitted to the ICU - was inversely correlated with semen parameters, Dr. Peinado explains. As for testosterone, there are a variety of theories, the doctor narrates. In this sense, four studies found no statistically significant differences between patients with COVID-19 and healthy patients. Two studies found that men with COVID-19 had significantly lower testosterone levels. And again, one study did not compare recovered COVID-19 patients with healthy ones, but found that the average testosterone level was 3.65 ng/ml, which is within the normal range.

However, "once again, it is not clear whether the differences are related to febrile illness or the direct effects of SARS-CoV2 on the cells involved in gametogenesis, as it has been shown that viruses that cause febrile illnesses, such as chickenpox, flu, and SARS, are associated with a decrease in sperm count and motility and abnormal morphology," concludes the urologist surgeon, specialist in prostate, peyronie, and sexual medicine.

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