What We Know About COVID and Penis Size as Man Says It Shrunk His Genitals

Anecdotal reports have emerged from men who say their penis has decreased in size after having COVID—but it's uncertain how widespread it is.

The topic was highlighted this week in the How To Do It sexual advice podcast by Slate, in which a man got in contact to say that he had lost "about an inch and a half" of length from his penis after catching COVID.

He added: "It's apparently due to vascular damage, and my doctors seem to think it's likely permanent."

It's not the only such report. A study published in The Lancet medical journal last year looked at over 3,700 people with confirmed or suspected long-term COVID with illness lasting over 28 days. It identified more than 200 potential symptoms from several different areas of the body.

Among them were reports of "decrease in size of testicles/penis," though these were reported in a small minority of respondents—less than 10 percent.

Charles Welliver, a men's health specialist and urologist at Albany Medical College, said on the How To Do It podcast that COVID has been linked to erectile dysfunction, which itself is linked to a decrease in penis size.

"Probably every guy that has significant ED… probably gets some shrinkage. We see that, particularly in guys after they have their prostate out for cancer and have zero erection for 6 to 12 weeks. They all get shrinkage," he said.

Ashley G. Winter, a urologist at the Kaiser Permanente healthcare company, also spoke on the podcast to state that negative effects of COVID on the penis may be to do with something called endothelial dysfunction—a term referring to impaired functioning of the lining of blood vessels.

This relates to the penis and erections because erections are blood flow events. Winter said: "You get hard because a whole bunch of blood moves into your penis and stays there. When those blood vessels are affected, you know, then you can get the erectile dysfunction."

A May 2021 study on COVID and erectile dysfunction published in The World Journal of Men's Health concluded that it had found evidence of COVID-19 in the human penis long after the initial infection had occurred, and suggested that the virus' effect on blood flow in the penis could result in impaired erectile function.

Still, Welliver noted that it is not known exactly how widespread the issue is since the total number of males with COVID is uncertain due to asymptomatic cases.

Conversely, there was a report in 2020 of a man who experienced a long-lasting erection for hours due to a blood clot linked to COVID.

Man covering genitals
A stock photo shows a man with both hands over his crotch. Some urologists have linked COVID to erectile issues. Staras/Getty