Covid-19 could have a long-term effect on male fertility, German study claims
- German scientists find semen quality deteriorates in group of men with Covid-19
- They advise men who recover from Covid to have reproductive health check-up
- Experts say more research needed to prove link between Covid and low fertility
Scientists compared semen quality in groups of men with and without the virus, and have made early findings on the potential impact of the virus.
Following the study, researchers advised men who survived Covid to have their reproductive health checked before trying for a baby – but warned their findings were not concrete.
Scientists in Germany found Covid-19 effected the shape, concentration and mobility of sperm, but experts say more research needs to be done – as even the common flu can have an impact on sperm count
The study found a significant deterioration in semen quality up to 60 days after the illness, according to The Telegraph.
Indicators that may hinder the chances of fathering a child, such as inflammation, sperm cell death and oxidative stress, were also noted to be more than double that of a healthy cohort.
The concentration of sperm was reduced by 516 per cent, mobility by 209 per cent, well the shape of patients’ sperm was altered by 400 per cent.
But others have called for long-term research to provide more evidence before a link can be proven certain.
Research has been carried out amid concern that Covid-19 uses receptors to gain access to lung tissue that are also found in testicles.
Experts at Justus-Liebig University analysed 84 men with Covid- 19 and 105 age-matched control subjects, without the virus, taking measurements every 10 days for 60 days.
Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki, a PhD student who led the research, said: ‘These effects on sperm cells are associated with lower sperm quality and reduced fertility potential. Although these effects tended to improve over time, they remained significantly and abnormally higher in the Covid-19 patients, and the magnitude of these changes were also related to disease severity.’
Prof Allan Pacey, an expert in andrology at the University of Sheffield, urged caution, warning: ‘Since sperm production takes just under three months, roughly, to be completed from start to finish, in my opinion they ended the study 30 days too soon.’
Other experts have suggested viruses such as the flu can cause a temporarily sperm counts to drop for weeks or even months, before recovering.