A new study in lab monkeys found that COVID could go straight for our dicks

The virus “invaded” these guys’ prostate, penis, and testicle cells.

Portrait of a rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta).
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The Pandemic

During the last few years, scientists have learned the devastating impacts of long COVID, from widespread instances of fatigue and brain fog to shortness of breath. But if you have a penis, it turns out you might have yet another COVID curveball to worry about: erectile dysfunction and other unfortunate conditions in that general region.

A small but revealing new COVID study was done on monkeys infected with the Delta variant; it showed that the virus may be directly responsible for triggering ED, per the New York Times. Researchers found that aside from the lungs, the virus was lingering inside the prostate, penis and testicles of monkeys. What was surprising about the study, though, was that infection in the testicles increased at week two of infection, after it usually dissipates from the lungs. COVID also damaged the blood vessels in and around the penis, offering a potential explanation for why so many men with long COVID — up to 20% — are diagnosed with ED.

There’s some important limitations to the study, including the fact that it was conducted on just three rhesus macaque monkeys and hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. Still, it supports other research, including a Florida study that found that people with COVID were three times more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction. All of this information is consistent with what we know about other viral diseases — such as the flu and Ebola — which reduce sperm count, block tesostrone production and affect regular sexual functioning.

COVID-related erectile dysfunction is much less likely, of course, if you’re vaccinated. I think it’s a little ironic that some people with penises were spewing misinformation about how the vaccines were causing infertility and that “real men” could handle COVID without getting inoculated. It’s going to be kind of awkward when they find out that the reason their manhood hasn’t been acting right is because they refused to get their jabs.