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Study links sexual problems and long COVID-19

Woman fixing her hair.

Aug. 15, 2022—Add hair loss and sexual problems to the list of long-term health problems that may affect some people who've had COVID-19. That's among the takeaways from a new study of long COVID-19 in the journal Nature Medicine.

Long COVID-19 refers to a range of health problems that some people continue to struggle with months after they were first infected with COVID-19. Fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, and a reduced sense of taste and smell are among the most common of these long COVID-19 symptoms, which are also known as post-COVID conditions.

A look at long COVID-19

To learn more about the symptoms of long COVID-19, researchers compared 486,149 adults who'd recovered from COVID-19 to a control group of more than 1.9 million people who were not previously infected with the virus. Three months after their infections, some of the people in the study continued to experience unusual health problems.

In all, the researchers found 62 symptoms linked to long COVID-19. Many of the symptoms have been reported in other studies of long COVID-19. Among them:

  • Changes in taste and smell.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Shortness of breath.

But there also were a few surprising symptoms among those who were previously infected with COVID-19.

Surprising symptoms

Compared to the control group, those with previous COVID-19 infections had a much higher risk of a wide range of symptoms. For example, people who had COVID-19 were:

  • More than 2.3 times as likely to report reduced libido.
  • More than 2.6 times as likely to experience ejaculation problems.
  • More than 2.75 times as likely to experience sneezing.
  • Nearly 4 times as likely to experience hair loss.

The symptoms of long COVID-19 may not be the same for everyone. And as this study shows, experts are still working to learn more about long COVID-19 and its symptoms.

What you can do

If you think you might have long COVID-19, tell your doctor. A tailored treatment plan may help with the symptoms.

The best way to avoid long COVID-19 is to avoid getting COVID-19. You can reduce your risk for COVID-19 by being vaccinated and boosted.

Want to learn more about long COVID-19? Visit our Coronavirus health topic center.

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