Conquering other planets won't be as easy as we'd hoped. To tell the truth, we'd already anticipated that it wouldn't go smoothly, but a study has just revealed a new difficulty that astronauts are going to have to face. More specifically, male astronauts.
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'Virility' impacted by space travel
As you may have guessed, this new obstacle stands in the way of men's intimacy. Staying in space is hard on the body. On the one hand, leaving the Earth's atmosphere means losing our natural protection against cosmic rays, and, on the other, our bodies are not designed to live in weightlessness. So what happens in the long term when astronauts undergo this combo? To find out, researchers have simulated both effects on rats. According to them:
These results indicate that simulated spaceflight leads to long-term impairment of neurovascular erectile function, representing a new health risk to be considered in the context of deep space exploration.
Erectile dysfunction may not be irreversible
Have we just discovered that men going into space will have to be a little more inventive when they get back to terra firma? Not necessarily. Treatments for erectile dysfunction already exist, and they could reverse the effects of oxidative stress and a prolonged stay in Space. The Weather.com website details:
The scientists also found that treatment with specific antioxidants appeared to improve the function of damaged tissues. So all is not lost. Except the erection, of course. Temporarily, of course.
Mars is still in sight. So Thomas Pesquet and his colleagues can take a breather.
This article has been translated from Gentside FR.
FASEB: Neurovascular dysfunction associated with erectile dysfunction persists after long-term recovery from simulations of weightlessness and deep space irradiation
Weather.com: Erectile Dysfunction a Potential Side-Effect Future Space Travellers Must Brace For, Study Finds!