By now, most of us are pretty familiar with the effects the Zika virus can have on pregnant women and their unborn children: Those babies can be born with horrible developmentalissues and birth defects.
But Zika mighthave a pretty unfortunate effect on men who carry it, too. According to a new study published in Nature, Zika might be able toshrink the size of a guys testicles.
In the study, researchers injected mice with the virus. And in three weeks time, Zikamade its way to the mices balls, damaged the inner workings of the ballsand shrunk them down to one-tenth of their actual size.
That might not sound like a big deal, but it is. Size matters here,people. When testicles are damaged, theyre unable to produce testosterone and sperm at a normal rate.
Sure enough, the mice in the study could onlyproduce10times fewer sperm than they normally wouldve been able to six weeks earlier. Those mice were also four times less likely to get female mice pregnant.
Kelle Moley, MD, fertility specialist and co-senior author of the study,spoke to themagnitude of the virus and its effects on male mice, which could be applied to mens health, as well: This is the only virus I know of that causes such severe symptoms of infertility.
Still, theres more research to be done about whether testicles of the miceinfected with Zika can recover.
Michael Diamond, PhD, MD, another co-senior author of the study, isnt very hopeful:We dont know for certain if the damage is irreversible, but I expect so, because the cells that hold the internal structure in place have been infected and destroyed.
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