Coronavirus and erectile dysfunction
Updated 12th April 2021 - for the most up to date coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and information, please visit the NHS or government’s dedicated pages. This advice may differ in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The past year has been really challenging for all of us. We’ve had to deal with the stresses of working from home and not seeing family. Lots of us have also had to cope with catching COVID-19 and dealing with the physical and mental fallout of those symptoms.
For some men, living through the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the symptom of erectile dysfunction (ED) – also known as impotence. If you’ve been affected, read on to find out what might be causing your ED, and how you can manage the problem.
Does COVID-19 cause erectile dysfunction?
Going by official guidance from the NHS, impotence is not a symptom either of COVID-19 or long COVID. However, it’s worth noting that COVID-19 is a new virus, and we’re still learning a lot about what effects it has on the body.
Some scientists and researchers have already discussed the link between COVID-19 and ED. In this paper, for instance, the writers claim that ED will be “a likely consequence of COVID-19 for survivors”. Until proper research is carried out though, it’s hard to say for certain whether the virus can be directly responsible for ED.
What’s likely is that the wider context of living through a pandemic, and coping with stress, anxiety and fatigue, is creating problems in the bedroom for lots of people.
Lockdown & erectile dysfunction
Did you know that some of the main causes of impotence are either psychological in nature, or related to lifestyle?
This is one of the reasons why ED is so common – as described in this guide from the NHS, “Most men occasionally fail to get or keep an erection. This is usually caused by stress, tiredness, anxiety or drinking too much alcohol, and it's nothing to worry about”.
As described in this article, causes of erectile dysfunction, stress, anxiety, depression and problems in your relationship can all contribute to ED. Other factors can be drinking too much, having a sedentary lifestyle, and gaining weight or having high cholesterol.
Looking back at the past year, it’s hardly a surprise that lots of us have struggled with sex. Even if you’re following a healthy lifestyle, you might’ve found that working and living in a cramped space with your significant other has put pressure on your relationship.
You might feel more stressed and anxious about work and money or feel really worried about the prospect of getting ill. Your sleep might also have been impacted, leaving you short on energy during the day.
In short, having a low sex drive or occasionally being unable to get an erection isn’t necessarily a sign of anything other than lockdown stress!
Long COVID & erectile dysfunction
For men who’ve had COVID-19, the symptoms of the virus may be a contributing factor to their impotence.
ED isn’t listed as an official symptom of long COVID, however this condition is known to cause symptoms that can have an impact on your sex life:
- Feeling extremely tired
- Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep
- Feeling anxious and depressed
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Generally feeling unwell
If you have long COVID (i.e. you still have symptoms long after first catching the virus) you may not have the physical energy to have sex. You might also have a lower sex drive than normal due to feeling anxious and sad.
It’s also worth noting that COVID-19 can worsen symptoms in people with cardiovascular disease. If you have this condition, it might have caused ED in the past. Having COVID-19 could have made it worse more recently.
There’s no specific treatment plan for long COVID, but there are ways to manage the symptoms, so you should always speak to your GP for advice. You can also use the NHS site Your COVID Recovery to help manage your symptoms at home.
When should I talk to a doctor about my erectile dysfunction?
The NHS recommends that you talk to a doctor if you keep having erection problems. Not being able to get an erection repeatedly can be a sign of an underlying physical condition like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, so you may need some tests.
If the cause isn’t physical, it may be that there’s an emotional or psychological issue to be addressed. Your GP might suggest relationship counselling or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
Whether or not you need treatment, your GP might recommend making some lifestyle changes that can help improve your general health, such as:
- Eating a healthier diet
- Exercising more regularly
- Losing some weight
- Cutting down on alcohol
- Quitting smoking
How can I get ED tablets?
If you’ve visited your GP to talk about your ED, they may have offered prescription ED tablets like sildenafil. When prescribed by your GP, these medications are available on the NHS, however there are limits on which tablets you can use and the amount your GP can prescribe you.
Another option is to order ED tablets through a trusted service like LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor. We stock a range of tablets including Viagra, Sildenafil, Cialis, Spedra, Vardenafil and Levitra, all of which offer different benefits.
When ordering with Online Doctor you’ll have to fill out a short questionnaire. Our in-house clinicians will use this to assess whether your chosen ED tablet is suitable and safe. If your order is approved, your tablets can be made available for in-store collection or delivered to your home address. Visit our ED clinic to find out more.
A final option is to buy the ED tablet Viagra Connect over the counter in pharmacies. A pharmacist will be able to sell you this without a prescription, but you’ll need to answer some questions when you buy it to make sure it’s safe for you to use.
It’s important that you speak to a pharmacist or doctor before taking this kind of medication, as it won’t be suitable for everyone. For this reason, you should never try to buy ED tablets from an illegal, unregulated source.