Chinese officials in the virus-hit region of Hubei have reportedly taken down an article linking COVID-19 to male infertility just hours after it was uploaded.
The study on the virus and men’s reproductive health was published on the Hubei government’s website on 12th March only to be taken down several hours later, according to local media.
The study was conducted by a team of experts at Tongji Hospital in the city of Wuhan which concluded that COVID-19 may have a detrimental effect on male fertility and that recovered patients should undergo tests, according to local media.
The report said that while there is no evidence to suggest the virus could affect fertility, it is theoretically possible as COVID-19 is genetically similar to the one that caused SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
The study said that infection could result in the “impairment of immune homeostasis in the testicles.”
Such a condition could lead to orchitis, an inflammation of the testicles which can lower a man’s sperm count, according to the report.
COVID-19 and SARS both invade cells by combining with the Ace2 enzyme, which is concentrated in the testicles as well as other organs such as the heart and kidneys.
Yueyang Hospital andrologist Qi Guangchong said: “Many viruses have been proved to affect male fertility, including those that cause hepatitis B and mumps. A third of mumps patients develop orchitis, and in some cases the testes get smaller, leading to infertility.
“I have seen a few SARS patients with infertility over the years, but the sample is too small to draw any conclusion.
“For those who have contracted the new virus and plan to be fathers in the future, I’d suggest doing a fertility test.”
Meanwhile, the Hubei government has failed to disclose why it took down the article after it had already been widely shared on social media.
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