Nicki Minaj turned a lot of heads on Monday when she told her 22 million Twitter followers that she refused to be vaccinated against COVID to attend the Met Gala, and that she planned to do more “research “before getting vaccinated. She added: “My cousin in Trinidad will not receive the vaccine because his friend received it and has become impotent. His testicles became swollen. Her friend was a few weeks away from getting married, now the girl has called off the wedding.
A classic example of vaccine misinformation and its spread, Minaj’s post sparked a night of ridicule. Many speculated that her cousin’s friend had in fact contracted a sexually transmitted infection which derailed her marriage. But rumors like the one Minaj heard, especially around men’s sexual health, have been a common thread in the COVID vaccine conspiracies that really affect vaccine decision-making. And they mask a truly alarming fact: COVID-19 itself, not the vaccine, can “linger” in the penis and have serious effects on men’s sexual health. I called Dr Aaron Spitz, a renowned urologist and author of The Penis Book: Complete Doctor’s Guide to the Penis, to explain what current science is telling us about what COVID actually does to men’s bodies, the fears it has heard from its patients, and why viruses like this only become real to some men when they are it’s their cock. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Aymann Ismail: What do we currently know about how COVID can affect men’s sexual health?
Aaron Spitz: As long as we know there is a separate and distinct problem COVID causes in men’s sexual health – aside from a man’s lungs, his heart and all that – there have been studies on fertility. In about 5 percent of cases, they find that there is a negative effect on male fertility in terms of decreased sperm count and decreased motility or movement of sperm. So yes, it has been shown that when men are infected with COVID, and in particularly more severe cases in this small percentage, there can be an impact on their fertility. It is not known if this is a long lasting effect.
In a larger percentage of men, perhaps around 20% or so, there has been a decrease in testosterone and an increase in hormones as the pituitary gland, a small gland that is found in your brain behind your eyeballs, secretes to make your testicles. produce testosterone and semen. If there is something wrong with the testicles – if the testicles are injured and they cannot produce as much testosterone and semen as they normally do – the pituitary glands send even more of this signal. . So the fact that there were these men whose signals were higher and their testosterone was lower indicates that the testes were injured.
On the flip side, it could be that guys who inherently have poorly functioning testes, who already have less testosterone, are the most likely to get sicker from COVID. It’s a chicken egg question: Did they have bad COVID because they had low testosterone, or did COVID give them low testosterone? We do not know. But it’s entirely possible that COVID caused them to have low testosterone, because in autopsy studies of men who died from COVID, a small percentage of them had inflammation and injury in their testicles. themselves.
Does COVID have a particular effect on penises and erections?
If testosterone is lower, there could be difficulty with erections, as erections rely on testosterone to keep penile tissue healthy and to allow blood flow. Thus, low testosterone can decrease the health of the penis and its ability to have erections. But, again, there is no clear data on this with COVID.
The are men who seek treatment for erectile dysfunction and low testosterone because they had COVID, and it is verifiable that this is why they have it. This is because a more common relationship between erectile dysfunction and COVID is likely anxiety and stress. COVID causes people to panic psychologically, and it’s extremely stressful both physically and financially. Stress causes humans to release adrenaline to cope with it. And adrenaline in humans causes blood to rush to the heart and lungs and brain and liver so that it can cope with physical attack, physical stress. If the stress is simply psychological, such as financial or situational, the body always reacts with adrenaline. Stress makes it harder to get an erection. If a man is stressed out by COVID, or if he is stressed because he lost his job or a loved one, no matter what, the adrenaline released when he is stressed can make it difficult to obtain an erection. And if a person is just chronically stressed, their adrenaline releases more at a chronic level and that too will decrease blood flow to the penis. The stress component of COVID is much more likely to be the cause of erectile dysfunction than the coronavirus itself.
What about the COVID vaccine? Is there any evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines can affect the penis or testicles?
There’s no. In fact, one study showed that the sperm count temporarily increased after the vaccine. He did not come down. And so at the very least, you can say that the COVID vaccine doesn’t interfere with fertility in men, and it actually did, in fact, increase sperm count a bit after the vaccine.
There is no evidence that the vaccine causes an alteration in testosterone production or causes inflammation or pain in the testes or causes erectile dysfunction. Now, a person might have transient flu-like illness after the shot or after the booster, and they might feel really ugly for a day or two. And during that time, they may not be able to perform very well sexually because they feel ugly. It’s just because they have a strong immune response, and it’s just a temporary phenomenon. Now, for some guys, they can develop performance anxiety around this short-lived episode. It is not uncommon for a man with normal sexual function to be absent overnight. And maybe it’s because he doesn’t have time and he’ll panic and think, “Oh my God, this has never happened to me before. It is terrible. Something’s wrong with me. “And the next time he goes to have sex, he’ll have the idea in his head.” Oh my God, what if this happens again? “And that thought makes his body release. adrenaline, which then decreases the blood flow to the penis and causes him to have a bad erection. And it becomes a vicious cycle. A guy may think he is suffering from erectile dysfunction from the prick while he It’s really about performance anxiety.
Is it possible that his testicles are swelling from the COVID vaccine?
No. The COVID vaccine does not cause infection in your body. The COVID vaccine stimulates your antibodies against the COVID virus shell, but it does not stimulate your antibodies against your testicular tissue. It is not a question of mounting an immune response which then wants to attack the cells of the testis. Whereas the COVID infection, in fact, can attack the cells of the testis because this virus binds to those cells and then it can drop its viral load in the cells and then it reproduces itself and then it explodes. So no, the vaccine will not cause inflammation, swelling and pain in the testicles.
What would make a man’s testicles swell in this way?
The most common cause of painful swelling of the testicles is infection. And in younger men, the most common types of infections are sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia, for example. And in older men, the most common cause of infection would be something like E. coli from their own intestinal tract. This is said to be the most common cause of a sudden, painful swelling of the testicles that would come out within a day or two. And these are treated with antibiotics.
You know, the reason I’m asking. It may sound random, but—
Nicki Minaj. Yes, I saw the tweet.
Tucker Carlson on Fox News just read the entire tweet from his TV show and said it “seems reasonable.” What do you think was really going on?
Who knows? But that’s not due to the COVID vaccine.
How often do your patients ask questions about COVID and male sexual performance?
I had more questions about fertility than about sexual performance. I think there may have been reports of these studies that showed a decrease in sperm count, but I think it’s a human concern as well. There’s this thing that does terrible things to you: there’s the long-lasting syndromes, the strokes, the lungs, the loss of smell, and then, “What’s that gonna do to my cock? “
Have you seen any misinformation that you would like to take this moment to dispel regarding how the COVID vaccine affects a man’s health?
The best thing I can say is that when men’s health has been studied in the context of the COVID vaccine, what has been shown is that sperm count temporarily improves. Wow. And nothing else. No other health effects have been demonstrated. No negative health effects have been demonstrated. So, I mean, it’s pretty good!
And then the other thing I would say is, if you go online for your health information, then go to reputable sources like PubMed, which has journal articles that are peer reviewed and can provide the best information. It can be difficult to understand what these articles say, but at the very least, you can then ask a doctor these questions or go to the CDC. But don’t go on social media, celebrity sites, the dark web, or any other place people get this terrible information.
What would you suggest if someone like me is worried about their own body in this way? What is the best practice to remedy this?
The best practice is to try to get information from a medical expert and not from social media or friends and family. So if you have the option to make an appointment with a doctor, ask your doctor these questions, you will probably get the best answer possible. Even better if you have access to a specialist, make an appointment or talk to an infectious disease specialist or urologist. But at the very least, have this conversation, ask a doctor these questions.
Just to be very clear, what’s the biggest risk to a man’s sexual health: getting the COVID vaccine or not getting it?
The biggest risk is not getting the vaccine because it is very difficult to have good sex when you are dead.