CORONAVIRUS can cause men's testicles to swell up - and leave them infertile, experts have claimed.
Medics in the US are warning that Covid-19 could cause the bizarre side-effect after treating a previously healthy 37-year-old man.
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3Doctors are warning coronavirus may cause men's testicles to swell upCredit: Getty Images - Getty
The doctors, from the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium in Texas, said the patient went to A&E with swelling and discomfort in his scrotum.
He had been suffering with some of the main coronavirus symptoms, such as a dry cough, fatigue and fever, for 10 days before he went to hospital.
His testicular pain had developed around three days earlier, he told doctors.
The patient had tested positive for Covid-19 at an outpatient clinic five days before his first symptoms emerged.VERY RARE
The medics, writing in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, said Covid-19 had damaged his spermatocytes, which keep sperm healthy.
They believe the virus used ACE2 receptors on Leydig cells - which are present in the testes - to enter his body.
However, they admit that cases such as this are very rare.
The doctors treated him with painkillers and antibiotics and he was discharged following a night in hospital when the pain had improved.
They have published their case report in the hope that it will help other medics "identify this disease at the earliest junction and trigger appropriate treatment, quarantine, and fertility follow-up."NO OFFICIAL LINK
There have been other similar reports of testicular pain in Covid-19 patients but no official research into the link as yet.
In April, researchers claimed that testicles could harbour coronavirus and allow the deadly virus to persist longer in men.
They claim that this comes down to the way Covid-19 enters the body - through cells expressing the ACE2 protein.
These proteins are found in the lungs, heart and intestines and are also found in large quantities in the testes.
While for women, very small amounts are found in ovarian tissue.
The pilot study indicated that while women took four days to clear the infection, men took 50 per cent longer, requiring six days.
The research was released ahead of publication on medical website MedRxiv and has not been peer reviewed, while experts cast doubt on the early findings.ISSUING CAUTION
Virology Professor Ian Jones from the University of Reading said the coronavirus would need to travel in the bloodstream to reach the testes, which he said was “not generally” what the virus does.
He said: “The main site of virus replication is the respiratory tract and to reach other sites the virus should have to travel in the bloodstream.
“This has been reported for the virus but it is not generally what coronaviruses do.
“Men generally do worse than women in immunological outcomes, possibly the result of only one X chromosome, and I think that this imbalance is more likely behind the differences seen. This work is not peer-reviewed.”
Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham Jonathan Ball said that another study had found no coronavirus in the semen of sufferers, suggesting it wasn't an “important reservoir” for coronavirus.
He said: “In a different study, which again was a preprint and so not peer-reviewed, a small number of males had their semen tested for the presence of the coronavirus while they were recovering from the virus.
“There was also a sample of testes from another patient that had unfortunately died.
“None of the samples tested positive for the presence of the virus, suggesting that the male genital tract wasn’t an important reservoir for the virus.”