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Decoding Long Covid: How Lingering After-effects Impact Female Health and Male Fertility

Representative image.

Representative image.

Recent studies depict that Covid-19 causes erectile dysfunction in men and affects fertility in men.

Decoding Long COVID
As we reach what seems to be the end of the deadly second wave of Covid-19 in India, several recovering patients stare at a long haul of dealing with persisting symptoms — now being defined as ‘long Covid’ by doctors. In light of the situation, News18 will run a 15-day series ‘Decoding Long Covid‘ where doctors with different specialisations will address concerns, recommend ways to deal with them and suggest when to seek help.

In today’s column, Dr Anjali Kumar, a gynaecologist at the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at CK Birla Hospital in Gurugram, explains how Covid-19 impacts female health.

Kumar said that while Covid can have a long-lasting effect on people’s bodies, women, who must multitask and shoulder the burden of most household responsibilities in India, maybe affected more.

“Most people who develop Covid-19 experience a mild or moderate illness that improves with time. However, some people go on to develop lasting symptoms that can be severe. The impact is more on female health as they must multitask and deal with many responsibilities like household chores, caregiving works, and job," said Kumar.

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The doctor said that some of the long-term effects of Covid-19 could include extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, a low-grade fever and mental trouble concentrating, lapses in memory, mood changes, trouble sleeping, headaches and isolation and loneliness.

Kumar pointed out that women who had Covid-19 during pregnancy, even after recovery, face problems of tiredness, fatigue, muscle pain, breathlessness. “These are compounded by anxieties and worries about the impact of COVID-19 infection on the baby and the uncertainties about treatment and the final delivery and baby care. Women in general at the time of COVID-19 infection have also reported anxiety about their gynecologic health, period irregularities, and fertility issues," said the doctor.

Kumar said that a psychiatrist in post-Covid clinics is required to address female health issues, from a mental health perspective. “All these problems can be taken care of with proper guidance. We can also help with online tools (consultation and sessions) to provide people with information and guidance as they recover from COVID-19 infection," said Kumar.

“We can also form online support groups that can help women understand that they are not alone and provide a platform for talking through experiences," she added.

In fact, recent studies depict that Covid-19 also causes erectile dysfunction in men and affects their fertility. In a research paper titled ‘Mask up to keep it up’ published in March 2021 in the journal Andrology, it was propounded that there is a correlation between erectile dysfunction and Covid-19.

The study, which was conducted on Italian men, found that Covid-19 wrecks the cardiovascular system, causing blood vessel disease, which in turn affects a man’s erection. In another study published in the World Journal of Men’s Health, it was found that the Covid-19 virus is present in the penis long after the initial infection in humans. The results of the study suggested that widespread endothelial cell dysfunction from COVID-19 infection can contribute to Erectile Dysfunction. (Click here to read more).

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first published:June 14, 2021, 10:00 IST