Most of us can rattle off the basic COVID symptoms on command at this point: cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue to name a few. But according to a recent interview with Stacey Rizza, MD, an infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic, there are also many COVID symptoms flying under patients' radars, obscuring diagnoses. Among them, says Rizza, is one particularly strange and surprising symptom: inflammation of the testes in men.
This type of inflammation is rare, she says, but should be considered a sign of a possible COVID infection. "The vast majority of people will still have fever and some sort of respiratory symptom, and frequently achiness, like you have in any kind of viral syndrome. But over time, we are seeing some of these additional symptoms," Rizza explains. "The other one that has been far less often but could be predicted from again where we see this receptor being expressed, is inflammation of the testis, or orchitis. We have seen some symptoms of that over time, as well."
Other studies corroborate Rizza's assessment, explaining that COVID can cause systemic disruptions to the sexual and reproductive system in male patients. "As with previous coronaviruses, viral binding to the ACE2 receptor in the testis may lead to tissue inflammation and the development of orchi-epididymitis with testicular pain," researchers write in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online. This can go on to cause "testicular damage and orchitis," they explain.