Man claims COVID-19 caused his genitalia to shrink

A study concluded that the prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED), measured with the Sexual Health Inventory for Men, was significantly higher in a COVID positive group.

 Sad man holding pillow (illustrative) (photo credit: FLICKR)
Sad man holding pillow (illustrative)
(photo credit: FLICKR)

A man in his 30s has claimed that his penis shrunk by a total of 1.5 inches after contracting COVID-19 last July. His claim came in the form of a letter written to Slate Magazine's How to Do It podcast, where they answer questions about sex, submitted anonymously by their audience. 

In the most recent episode, one listener submitted a question regarding his shrunken genitalia, which he alleged was due to COVID. After being hospitalized in July 2021 for COVID, he began to experience erectile dysfunction, he explained to the podcast hosts. 

But while this was treated and resolved after he sought medical attention, he noticed a more permanent change. "I seem to be left with a lasting problem. My penis has shrunk," he said.

"Before I got sick, I was above average, not huge, but definitely bigger than normal. Now I've lost about an inch and a half and become decidedly less than average."

His experience, however, is far from the first reported case of post-covid erectile dysfunction in men. 

 

 COVID-19 tests are pictured at the NG Biotech factory in Guipry-Messac as France experiences a surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases due to the Omicron variant, France, January 12, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/STEPHANE MAHE) COVID-19 tests are pictured at the NG Biotech factory in Guipry-Messac as France experiences a surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases due to the Omicron variant, France, January 12, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/STEPHANE MAHE)

A study entitled “'Mask up to keep it up': Preliminary evidence of the association between erectile dysfunction and COVID-19" was published in March 2021 in Andrology and supported by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research. 

The study examined 100 subjects in order to determine if the likelihood of experiencing erectile dysfunction was higher in those who had contracted COVID-19. The study looked at 100 sexually active men, 25 of whom had contracted COVID previously, and 75 who had not.

It concluded that the prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED), measured with the Sexual Health Inventory for Men, was significantly higher in the COVID positive group, with 28% experiencing it, vs just 9.33% in the COVID negative group, a third as many. 

Therefore, the study concluded that "on top of well-described pathophysiological mechanisms, there is preliminary evidence in a real-life population of ED as a risk factor of developing COVID-19 and possibly occurring as a consequence of COVID-19."

Additionally, an earlier study published in September 2020, entitled "The Epidemic of COVID-19-Related Erectile Dysfunction: A Scoping Review and Health Care Perspective," examined the same issue.

This study concluded that "COVID-19 has a uniquely harmful impact on men's health and erectile function through biological, mental health, and healthcare access mechanisms."

Speaking to the podcast, urologist Ashley G. Winter explained that the phenomenon of COVID-19 causing shrunken genitalia could be entirely possible.

“You get hard because a whole bunch of blood moves into your penis and stays there," she explained.

“When those blood vessels are affected, you can get the erectile dysfunction."