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COVID is damaging sperm, Israeli researchers say, raising concerns about infertility



COVID-19 is harming patients’ sperm, even weeks after recovery, Israeli doctors concluded, raising concerns that the disease may reduce fertility.

“The men who had mild disease had essentially normal sperm quality,” Professor Dan Aderka of Sheba Medical Center told the Times of Israel this week. “But those who had moderate or severe disease often did not, even after recovery.

“These men had an average reduction of about 50 percent in sperm count per milliliter, total ejaculate volume and sperm motility,” he said. This figure reflects tests done about a month after diagnosis.

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Aderka, a Tel Aviv University professor, said he was concerned that a minority of men who had COVID-1

9 could face fertility problems or even “lifelong infertility.” But he said doctors need to monitor sperm from healed patients for months to find out more – which is what he plans to do.

An Israeli man is being tested for coronavirus at a Maccabi Healthcare Services booth in the central city of Ramle on October 5, 2020. (Yossi Aloni / Flash90)

He drew his conclusions after conducting what is believed to be the broadest analysis of various research projects conducted around the world examining sperm and COVID-19, in order to assess what is currently known. His analysis has not yet been peer-reviewed, but the more than 40 studies he referred to, covering the sperm of hundreds of men, have been.

Aderka is now starting to implement ongoing sperm monitoring for some patients recovered from Sheba, to assess the long-term impact of the disease on male fertility.

He said: “We don’t know yet if these effects are reversible, but we do know that other diseases in the coronavirus family, such as mumps and SARS, have left a long-term effect on fertility for male patients. For 20% of patients with adult male mumps, there is sterility, total loss of fertility, so we know that viruses can have such an impact. ”

Professor Dan Aderka of Sheba Medical Center and Tel Aviv University (courtesy of Dan Aderka (

His concerns are based not only on the evaluation of semen samples but on reports on the testicular status of deceased COVID-19 patients. “A Chinese study looked at coronavirus patients who died and found testicular damage,” he said, adding that the damage focused on two cells directly responsible for sperm production. ”

He commented: “In some cases there is probably physical damage to the testicles, although we don’t know how many cases.”

He noted that the virus is found in some patients’ sperm during and after infection, but said that doesn’t mean it can be sexually transmitted and that all evidence currently suggests it can’t.

He said existing literature suggests the virus is found in the semen of 13% of male patients who have the disease and 8.6% of those recovering a week or two after active disease. A month later, there are no traces of coronavirus ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the sperm.

Asked if there are any measures men can take to protect their fertility during the pandemic, she said wearing the mask can help, even if you eventually get infected.

This is because the viral load entering the body tends to be lower if people are protected by a mask, and the lower the viral load, the greater the chances of the immune system to defeat the virus while it is still in the mild phase and to have a minimal impact on sperm.

Aderka said: “If you have a small viral load in the beginning, your immune system has a better chance of catching up with the virus, so wearing a mask can actually reduce severity, reduce mortality, and potentially even more. to what we are learning: reduce infertility. “




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