• However no study has proved the new coronavirus will affect men's fertility
  • The experts suggested the likelihood of serious immune damage in the testes
  • They urged recovered male patients to test sperm quality and hormone levels  
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Doctors in China have urged male coronavirus patients to test their fertility as soon as they recover because the infection may damage the function of their testicles.

No study has proved that the virus will reduce men's fertility or sexual potency.

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But medics in Wuhan have suggested the likelihood that the disease can affect the production of sperm and the formation of male sex hormones.
Medics from a hospital in Wuhan have suggested the likelihood that the novel coronavirus can affect the production of sperm and the formation of male sex hormones (file photo)
Although the coronavirus mainly targets one's lungs and immune system, it can, in theory, impair a man's abilities to reproduce, according to Wuhan's Tongji Hospital.

The comments were made yesterday by Prof Li Yufeng and his team at the hospital's Centre for Reproductive Medicine.

Tongji Hospital, affiliated to Huazhong University of Science and Technology, is one of the hospitals designated by the government to treat coronavirus patients since an outbreak started in Wuhan in January.

Coronaviruses are so named because their structure has jagged edges which look like a royal crown - corona is crown in Latin (Pictured, an illustration of the COVID-19 virus released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
The comments were made yesterday by Prof Li Yufeng at the Centre for Reproductive Medicine from Wuhan's Tongji Hospital. The picture shows medics working in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital designated for COVID-19 patients in Wuhan on February 24

According to the experts, the new coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, enters human cells and causes tissue damage by binding its spike protein to cell membrane protein angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).

ACE2 is known to be present in other human organs apart from the lungs and can especially be abundant in a man's testes. It can be concentrated in several cells which are directly related to the male reproductive abilities, including the germ cells, supporting cells and Leydig cells, the team claimed.

They added that during the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003, medics observed serious immune system damage in the testicles of some male patients.

Even though doctors did not detect the SARS coronavirus, or SARS-CoV, in patients' testicles, they could suffer inflammation in their sexual organs, the study said.

In a report released by the hospital, Prof Li and his team showed a graphic (above) illustrating the cells in a healthy testicle. They studied the impact of SARS coronavirus on male patients
Another image released by the team shows the cells in a patient's testicle after he recovered from an infection caused by the SARS coronavirus. The medics have warned of similar inflammation to men struck down with the novel coronavirus, which has killed at least 4,718

Since the new coronavirus is highly similar to the SARS coronavirus and the two share the same host cell receptor ACE2, the team concluded that, in theory, the new coronavirus could cause damage to men's testicles.

'Therefore, for men who have had the infection, especially those who need to reproduce, it is best to undergo relevant fertility tests, such as sperm quality and hormone level tests, upon recovery to detect possible problems as soon as possible,' a hospital report wrote. 

More than 100 countries are now fighting the fast-spreading contagion, which was first detected Wuhan in central China.

China today declared that 'the peak of the coronavirus in the country has passed'. Pictured, people wearing face masks ride an escalator at the High Speed Railway Station in Guangzhou. 

The World Health Organization yesterday declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after blaming 'alarming levels of inaction' by governments across the planet for fuelling the crisis.

While China today declared that 'the peak of the coronavirus in the country has passed'.

The disease has killed at least 4,718 people and infected more than 126,000 across the world.