Social Environmental Impact of COVID-19 and Erectile Dysfunction: An Explorative Review - Beyond the Abstract

The COVID-19 restrictions implemented to control and reduce the spread of the virus such as self-isolation and home-working, restricted social interaction, and changed lifestyle behaviours and routines. The pandemic and its restrictions not only resulted in increasing loneliness, anxiety, depression, and impairing psychological wellbeing but also impacted sexual wellbeing.

The present study showed that the prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) in healthcare professionals working with COVID-19 patients was double when compared to non-healthcare working men who were living under COVID-19 restrictions. In particular, the high rate of ED in healthcare workers is likely a consequence of the heavy workload and stressful environment experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, stress and anxiety may trigger a vicious cycle with ED as they can be the cause of ED and, in turn, ED may increase these symptoms. We suggest facilitating sexual health both among healthcare workers working with COVID-19 patients and men during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, a frequent and trouble-free sex life could act as an antidote mitigating self-isolation and its consequences, with a fulfilling sex life being found to be associated with multiple mental and physical health benefits.

Interestingly, the New York City Health Department has developed guidelines for safe sex practices during the COVID-19 outbreak, namely suggesting to (a) reduce the number of partners; (b) reduce or not to have foreplay; (c) to provide hand hygiene before and after sexual intercourse and; (d) to use male condoms as a method of protection for a safe sexual intercourse.

In addition, it is crucial to provide also adequate psychological support and to promote quality of life with particular attention to sexual life.

Written by: Damiano Pizzol, Italian Agency For Development Cooperation, Khartoum, Sudan

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