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Researchers from Belgium just released the conclusions of a study they carried out on 120 men with an average age of 35, at an average of 52 days after their COVID-19 symptoms had resolved. The study was published on Monday in the Fertility and Sterility journal.
Although a review by peers is necessary, the researchers said they could assure that semen is “not infectious” with COVID-19 and therefore cannot be transmitted through sexual contact.
However, the study states that: “Couples with a desire for pregnancy should be warned that sperm quality after COVID infection can be suboptimal.
“The estimated recovery time is three months, but further follow-up studies are underway to confirm this and to determine if permanent damage occurred in a minority of men.”
Among 51 men tested between one and two months after recovery, 37 percent had reduced sperm motility, and 29 percent had low sperm counts.
Among 34 men who provided semen samples at least two months after recovery, sperm motility was impaired in 28 percent, and sperm counts were low in 6 percent.
The severity of COVID-19 infection was not correlated with sperm characteristics.
The researchers said they “found no differences” in the sperm quality of those who were hospitalised with the virus and those who stayed at home with milder symptoms.
Reductions in sperm motility were evident in 60 percent.
Fortunately, the effect seems reversible.
The researchers found: “Sperm quality parameters were most severely damaged when assessed during the first month.”
Damage was, therefore, “less pronounced” after the first month and “almost normal” after two months.
One possibility for COVID-19 to be impacting the quality of sperm is the body’s immune response to the virus.
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According to the researchers, higher concentrations of specific COVID-19 antibodies in patients’ blood serum were strongly correlated with reduced sperm function.
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.
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