A man wrote in to Slate’s How to Do It podcast to seek out advice about his penis allegedly shrinking by 1.5 inches after contracting COVID-19

The man, who is in his 30s and considers himself to be heterosexual, said he was hospitalized after testing positive for COVID last July. Following his release from the hospital, he started to experience erectile dysfunction, but the issue was corrected with medication. The man also noticed that he went from having what he thought to be an above average penis to something “decidedly less than average.” 

His doctors chalked it up to vascular damage that was irreparable. He admitted that the current state of his penis has had a “profound impact on my self-confidence and my abilities in bed.” 

As is the case with anyone who has contracted COVID​​​​​​​-19, no one knows what the exact long-term effects will be. However, as we learn more and more about this virus over time, it has become increasingly clear that there’s a connection between COVID​​​​​​​ and its impact on the vascular system, which is made up of vessels that carry blood throughout the body. With that being said, it’s not surprising to hear that erectile dysfunction has become a prevalent issue since we’re talking about a man’s inability to achieve an erection which occurs through significant blood flow. 

“You get hard because a whole bunch of blood moves into your penis and stays there,” Ashley G. Winter, urologist at the Kaiser Permanente healthcare company, explained to Slate. “When those blood vessels are affected, you know, then you can get the erectile dysfunction.” The impact of COVID​​​​​​​-19 has also been known to swing the pendulum in the other direction. A study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine in 2020 found a 62-year-old man who sustained an erection for over four hours due to blood clots caused by the virus. 

Charles Welliver, director of Men’s Health at Albany Medical College, suggests that there’s a link between erectile dysfunction and shrinkage, based on studies prior to COVID​​​​​​​. If a man suffers from “significant” ED where it happens every so often, Welliver said shrinking also occurs. While medical professionals would like to gather data that will help them better understand the likelihood of men getting ED after contracting the virus, the growing number of asymptomatic cases is making it difficult to calculate accurate figures. 

The emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant throughout the United States has led to an admission from Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday where he said the virus will “ultimately find just about everybody.”

This past week, the U.S. averaged just over 750,000 cases per day. 

You can listen to Slate’s How to Do It episode below.