Men who suffer severe cases of the coronavirus may experience reduced fertility, a according to a new study.
Dr Dan Aderka of the Sheba Medical Center, Israel, screened healthy men for evidence of Covid-19 and found that in some cases the virus made its way into the sperm. From there, he reported there was a 50% decrease in sperm volume, concentration and motility.
What’s more, in post-mortum tests of 12 patients, the Sheba Medical Center found severe changes in the testicular cells supporting sperm development and those producing testosterone.
‘As normal sperm maturation takes 70 to 75 days, it is possible that if we are doing a sperm examination two and a half months after recovery, we may see even more reduced fertility,’ Aderka told the Jerusalem Post.
‘It could be even more detrimental.’
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According to Dr Aderka, the coronavirus can destroy two particular types of cell in the testicles: Sertoli and Leydig.
The former is responsible for sperm maturation and the latter produces testosterone. Covid-19 can bind to the ACE2 receptors on the surface of the cells and destroy them – the same thing it does to the lungs.
He says that it’s still unclear if this effect is reversible or whether men can recover from it over time. The Sheba Medical Center plans to examine the same patients it screen in six months and a year’s time to see what the results are.