Home / Science / Even mild COVID can cause infertility: IIT-B study explains how virus affects reproductive function
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Even mild or moderate COVID-19 illness can cause infertility, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay study revealed and further that mild to moderate infections ‘could change the level of proteins related to male reproductive function that may impair fertility.’

Although COVID  mainly affects the respiratory system, the virus, and the body's response to it, also damages other tissues, the authors said. The study, which was published journal ACS Omega, was conducted by researchers from Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai at IIT-B. 

The researchers compared the levels of proteins in the semen of healthy men and those who previously had mild or moderate cases of COVID-19. For this, they analysed semen samples from 10 healthy men and 17 men who had recently recovered from COVID-19. None of the men, who ranged in age from 20 to 45, had a prior history of infertility.

The team found that the recovered men had significantly reduced sperm count and motility, and fewer normally shaped sperm, than those who had not had COVID-19.

When the researchers analysed semen proteins using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, they found 27 proteins at higher levels and 21 proteins at lower levels in COVID-19-recovered men compared with the control group.

The researchers said many of the proteins were involved in reproductive function.

Two of the fertility-related proteins, semenogelin 1 and prosaposin, were present at less than half their levels in the semen of the COVID-19-recovered group than in the semen of controls they said.


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