German researchers regularly analyzed the semen of 84 men infected with the coronavirus for two months and compared it with that of 105 individuals who did not contract the disease.
Covid-19 could alter the quality of the sperm of men who have contracted it, according to a German study published on Friday, involving a small number of patients and whose conclusions will have to be confirmed by other work.
The team of researchersJustus-Liebig University (Giessen, Germany) regularly analyzed for two months the semen of 84 men (aged less than 40 years) infected with the coronavirus, mostly suffering from a severe form, and compared it with that of 105 individuals not not having contracted the disease.
Inflammation and oxidative stress twice as high
The authors also find a “markedly lower” sperm concentration and mobility of the latter and much more sperm with an altered form among the participants affected by the Covid.
“These results constitute the first direct experimental evidence that the male reproductive system can be targeted and affected by Covid-19,” they conclude.
They point out that the changes observed correspond to a state of “oligoasthenoteratospermia, which is one of the most frequent causes of subfertility in men”.
“No established evidence of long-term damage”
Experts who were not involved in the study, however, warn that more research must be done before drawing any conclusions.
“Men should not be overly alarmed. At the moment there is no established evidence of long-term damage caused by Covid-19 to sperm or to male reproductive potential,” said Alison Campbell, director of embryology for the Care Fertility specialist clinic group.
The authors themselves observe that a hypothesis is that the results observed are due to the treatments received by certain patients, in particular corticosteroids, antivirals and antiretrovirals, some studies having demonstrated a negative impact on the quality of sperm. 44% of participants in the Covid group had been treated with corticosteroids and 69% with antivirals.
Regardless of the action of the coronavirus, “we already know that fever can have a negative impact on sperm production, regardless of the disease that caused it”, also notes Allan Pacey, male fertility specialist at the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom).