Doctors from Wuhan, the city where coronavirus outbreak has emerged share that coronavirus may be affecting male fertility and testicular functions. They advise all male patients to undergo fertility tests once they are recovered and healed from the infection.
The doctors from Wuhan’s Tongji Hospital believe that coronavirus affects the testicles and reduce his sexual power and fertility. However, there is no study or experimental data to prove their claim.
Considering this is a new virus and it has limited information available on it, it is too early to say if this coronavirus and fertility link is true or not.
They further explain that there are high chances that coronavirus reduces the number and quality of sperms in men and also disturbs the hormonal balance especially the male sex hormones. This is surprising for many people as this virus mainly affects the lungs and the respiratory system only. Even the symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the common cold but its relevance with testicular health is rather unexpected.
The statement of Prof Li Yufeng and other team members from Wuhan’s Tongji Hospital’s Centre for Reproductive Medicine emphasize on fertility testing of all recovered male patients to study it.
Tongji Hospital is affiliated with the Hua Zhong University of Science and Technology and is considered one of the best hospitals that are acknowledged by the Chinese government for treating coronavirus patients since January.
Coronavirus, now named as SARS-CoV-2 makes its way to human bodies by eyes, nose, and mouth. Once inside, it attaches and damages the body tissues by binding to them. The spikey structure of coronavirus adheres to the cellular membranes through a protein called “angiotensin-converting enzyme 2” or ACE2.
Now, this ACE2 protein is not just found in the cell walls of the lungs or respiratory system but other organs as well. This includes testicle too and that is why doctors are concerned over coronavirus affecting fertility and testicular functions of male patients. These proteins could be present in a wide variety of cells that directly or indirectly play a role in male reproduction such as germ cells and their supporting cells. Also, Leydig cells could be an easy target of coronavirus, says these doctors.
During the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003, the doctors reported a similar situation where the SARS virus affected the fertility and testicular functions of some of the men. Although this coronavirus is different from SARS still there is a high probability of it affecting the testicles, the same way as SARS patients experienced in 2003.
The structural similarities between SARS and Coronavirus suggest that both of these respond to the host cell’s ACE2 protein receipt. However, this claim is just in theory and not supported by any research-based evidence.
The doctor’s team from the Tongji hospital wrote in the official report that male patients who have recovered from coronavirus should get tested for fertility check including sperm count, sperm quality and hormones. It would be helpful to find if these two things share a connection or not.
This virus has now spread to more than 100 countries, infection 120,000+ people and taken nearly 4000 lives. The Chinese government says that the coronavirus has passed its peak time in the country. The increase in daily cases is somehow stabilized but there are still new cases reported every day.