Study claims Covid-19 can negatively impact a man’s sperm, experts are skeptical

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A Covid-19 infection could negatively impact the quality of a man’s sperm, potentially affecting fertility, according to a study published in the journal Reproduction. But some experts are skeptical and have criticised the study, one saying any virus can temporarily cause a drop in sperm count.

The study claims a coronavirus infection can cause impairments to a man’s semen. German researchers say those with Covid-19 had a change in sperm concentration, shape and mobility as well as inflammation and oxidative stress in the sperm cells. Those with more severe Covid-19 infections had the most changes to their sperm, according to the study.

“This report provides the first direct evidence to date that COVID-19 infection impairs semen quality and male reproductive potential.”

The study by Justus Liebig University Giessen in Germany examined the sperm of 84 fertile men with Covid-19 and 105 fertile men without the virus. Their semen was analysed every 10 days over the course of a 60 day trial. Lead researcher and doctoral student Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki says the more severe the Covid-19 infection, the more changes there were to the sperm.

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“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.”

But catching other viruses, like the flu, can also cause a temporary drop in sperm, sometimes for a few months, according to consultant in reproductive endocrinology and andrology at Imperial College London, Channa Jayasena.

“This makes it difficult to work out how much of the reductions observed in this study were specific to Covid-19 rather than just from being ill.”

A professor of andrology at the UK’s University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, Allan Pacey, told CNN that he has reviewed numerous studies on the subject and says “any measurable effect of coronavirus on male fertility was probably only slight and temporary.”


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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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