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Covid and erectile dysfunction: how has the pandemic impacted our erections?

Written by Mojo, reviewed by Medical Doctor Dr Matthew Chan

Young man wearing a Covid facemask.

At the time of writing this post, we’re 2 years into the Covid pandemic.

Covid (also known as Coronavirus, Covid-19, or, for our more lighthearted pandemic pals, ‘the rona’) has infected almost 500 million of us so far. 

By now, we all know the most common symptoms of the virus. But some guys who have had Covid as well as erection troubles, have been left wondering: “Can Covid cause ED?” 

It can be hard to find solid answers about how Covid, erectile dysfunction (ED), and other sex issues are all linked – and that’s where Mojo comes in. To answer all your burning questions, we spoke with medical doctor Matthew Chan to clarify: 

Does Covid cause erectile dysfunction?

Some men (and a whole lot of news outlets) have been asking whether Covid causes erectile dysfunction.

Well, the answer is a little complicated.

There is some evidence to suggest that men with Covid are more likely to have ED. One study found that ED was 19% more common in men who had had Covid, compared to men who had never had the virus.

But, more studies need to be carried out before we can say whether ED is a direct result of Coronavirus. 

“A lot more research needs to be carried out (with many more people) before Covid-19 can be named as an official cause of ED. 

Right now, all we have is evidence based on the experiences of a relatively small group. While it’s important we don’t ignore these, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions either.” 

Dr Matthew Chan, Medical Doctor

However, the ongoing conversation around Covid and ED shows that it's a growing concern for lots of men – suggesting a link between the two.

Erectile dysfunction and Covid: what’s the link?

“Your erections don’t have an on/off button. They’re the result of a complex process that involves the brain, emotions, muscles, blood vessels, hormones, and nerves. 

A problem with any link in the chain can trigger erectile dysfunction. 

Looking at the many ways Long Covid can affect your general health leaves me with little doubt that ED could be a knock-on effect for lots of guys.”

Dr Matthew Chan, Medical Doctor

Whether you’re suffering from Long Covid, you’ve had 'the rona' and recovered, or you’re feeling the mental effects of lockdown – we’re diving into the possible ways Covid could impact your psychological state, your lifestyle, and your physical wellbeing – and how all this can take its toll on your boners. 

Psychological effects of Covid that could lead to ED

The Covid impact

The associated cause(s) of ED

The link explained

Dip in mental health Increased stress, anxiety, depression, and a drop in libido

Coping with unexpected illness, being in lockdown, losing loved ones, dealing with redundancies, facing uncertainties, and generally being in a pandemic can spark feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

These feelings of can change your brain chemistry and make it a whole lot harder to keep the functions needed to get an erection on track.

Plus, if your mood is low, your libido might drop too. This is completely natural. You might find, however, that you struggle to get it up if you’re not fully in the mood.

Change in interpersonal relationships Sexual performance anxiety

It’s no secret that Covid causes strain on relationships – including isolating together, having to school the kids at home, or dealing with general relationship problems and breakups.

And if you’re single, you’ve probably seen a big change in your dating or sex life since the start of the pandemic.

Pushing yourself to have sex when you’re not feeling close to your partner, or trying to have casual sex after years out of the game, can put more pressure on you than usual.

This can all contribute to sexual performance anxiety, which is a very common cause of ED.

Lack of social interaction General low mood

Put simply, being alone all the time makes us sad.

After such a long period of isolation, it’s normal if your social life has gone a little downhill.

Lack of social interaction is a common cause of lower mood and, unfortunately, low mood can cause issues with your erections and libido.

Change or increase in masturbation and porn habits Unhealthy relationship with porn or masturbation

Evidence suggests there’s been a huge increase in the consumption of online porn during the pandemic, as a result of more alone time and less access to partnered sex.

And we even had public health services recommending masturbation to the masses as a way to stay safe from the virus.

Porn and masturbation are both great – but if you’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with porn over lockdown you could have trouble with your erections.

And if you’ve adopted unusual masturbation techniques – like using death grip or always using the prone position – your erections could suffer.
“Anxiety and uncertainty have been common symptoms for those suffering with long term Covid, and it’s only natural for these worries to creep into your sex life. 

But rather than focus more on sex, it can help to dial down your expectations until you’re feeling more like yourself. 

That doesn’t mean you have to give it up completely. But slow, sensual lovemaking might be better than anything too strenuous.”

Amanda Barge, Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist

Covid lifestyle factors of Covid that could lead to ED

The Covid impact

The associated cause(s) of ED

The link explained

Lack of exercise Lack of exercise leading to a higher chance of blood flow or circulation problems

When you have Covid (or when you’re dealing with Long Covid) it’s natural that you won’t be exercising as much as usual.

And even if you haven’t got the virus, years of lockdowns could mean that you’ve stopped regularly going to the gym or taking part in other sports.

Maintaining an active lifestyle is essential for the strength of your erections.

So, a less active lifestyle could eventually lead to a higher chance of blood flow or circulation problems, which could then weaken your erections.

Increased drinking and drug-taking Substances getting in the way of brain messaging, damage to blood vessels and circulatory system, decreased libido, increased anxiety, dependency on substances to have sex

Even though the pandemic put an end to many parties, excessive drinking increased by 21% in the US during the pandemic, and drug use increased too.

Drinking too much can block with the messages in your brain that tell the penis to fill with blood.

Drugs – including weed and cocaine – can damage blood vessels and restrict blood flow to the penis.

And, of course, if you’re over-indulging in alcohol or drugs, you can feel low or anxious, which in turn makes it much harder to get hard.

Physical effects of Covid that could lead to ED

The Covid impact

The associated cause(s) of ED

The link explained

Vascular comorbidities (having one or more disease or condition at the same time) Issues with the vascular system

When we think about vascular comorbidities, we are looking at the correlation between ED and other diseases.

Patients who get really sick with Coronavirus often have other underlying health problems, like heart disease.

Both heart disease and Covid can cause lasting damage to blood vessels.

These two illnesses can occur together, and when they do, they can reduce blood flow – this means it could be even more difficult to get or maintain an erection.

Fatigue Tiredness and low energy

We all know Covid can make you feel totally wiped out.

We hate to state the obvious, but if you’re feeling low energy, it’ll be way harder to get an erection or to maintain stamina during sex.

Covid particles in penile blood vessels Vascular damage

That’s right – research shows that Covid particles can be found in blood vessels actually in your penis (and maybe even in your testicles).

These particles have been known to cause vascular damage.

This can have a role in causing or worsening physical erectile dysfunction.

Can Covid vaccines cause erectile dysfunction?

So far, there’s not enough evidence to suggest that Covid vaccinations cause ED. Great news, right?

“We know that Covid-19 vaccines significantly reduce the risk of serious illness from the virus (needing to be hospitalized, for example), but also do reduce the risk of infection at all.

So, it makes sense that getting vaccinated could reduce the risk of getting Covid infection-related erection issues.”

Dr Matthew Chan, Medical Doctor

Join in the conversation about ED & vaccines here.

Erectile dysfunction, Covid & Viagra

There have been rumors flying around about ED pills like Viagra being used as a cure for Covid, but you should know – Viagra doesn’t actually cure the virus.

However, when it comes to whether or not Viagra is safe to use when you’ve got Covid, things are a little more complicated, so we got Dr Matt to break it down:

“If you're severely unwell with Covid, it would be preferable to avoid Viagra, as some of the serious side effects of Viagra are blood pressure and heart-related, and Covid can affect both of these things.

However, having mild or Long Covid and using Viagra shouldn't be a physical issue, except fatigue and it maybe not having full effect.”

Dr Matthew Chan, Medical Doctor

Although erection medications can be great for a one-off boner, if your ED is a psychological response to Covid or the pandemic, we recommend treating the psychological root causes of ED, for stronger erections and better sex in the long run.

How to treat erectile dysfunction after Covid 

Dealing with Covid symptoms can be difficult, especially when you don’t know how or when things will get better. 

If one of them is ED, it’s also natural to worry about the impact it might have on your sex life, your relationship, or your self-worth. But don’t worry too much – we’ve got plenty of advice on how to feel better and get your erections back on track.

Psychological treatment for ED after Covid

Lifestyle choices that could help with ED after Covid

Physical treatment for ED after Covid

If Covid or Long Covid have had a physical impact on your erections, your doctor will tell you exactly how to handle it, so we’ll leave that in their capable hands. But if you’re nervous about talking to a doctor about your erections, we’ve got a sneak peek into how the appointment might play out. 

Before you go

Remember, ED can be caused by a huge range of psychological, physical, and lifestyle-based factors. So, your problems might have nothing to do with Covid. 

If you’d like to strengthen your erections and overall physical and mental health, try Mojo’s free trial today.

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Mojo aims to provide useful wellbeing resources to its users; however, you should not solely rely on opinions or advice available on the Website or given by the Community. Always seek advice from a qualified medical doctor or other healthcare professional before acting.

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