“Surprisingly, the male reproductive tract lit up like a Christmas tree,” Ronald Veazey, a professor of pathology at the Tulane University School of Medicine and an author of the study, told the paper.

That’s just the latest piece of evidence that shows red states may pay a high price for refusing to take the virus more seriously. Another study done at the University of Hong Kong found that hamsters’ testicles actually shrank after they were infected with COVID.

And it’s not just animals studies that are showing the problem the virus can cause below the belt. The problem is turning up in human life all too often.

“The effect of the virus is not only on the respiratory system, but almost all organ systems – the GI tract, the nervous system and now there is more evidence it might go to the male genital tract,” said Dr. Yujiang Fang, a urologist, professor of pathology at Des Moines University and adjunct faculty in the urology division at the University of Missouri., told the Times-Picayune.

Previous studies have shown that men of reproductive age with COVID have lower sperm counts. A large University of Florida Health study published online last November found that men with COVID-19 are “more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction.” Researchers at the University of Miami had previously suggested that COVID may result in restricted blood flow to the penis, causing erectile dysfunction.

Indeed, last November, a group of urologists actually issued a public service announcement calling for men to get vaccinated against COVID to “save the future boners.”

“Trust us, we’re penis doctors,” the urologists urged.

If low sperm counts and erectile dysfunction aren’t enough, there are other issues that should give the anti-vaxxers plenty to think about.

Heading up that list is the story of a man who claims that his penis lost an inch and a half in length after he was infected with COVID.

“I seemed to be left with a lasting problem. My penis has shrunk,” the man wrote Slate, seeking advice. “It’s apparently due to vascular damage, and my doctors seem to think it’s likely permanent.”

So far, there haven’t been any other reports of size loss.

Since COVID had disproportionately affected red states, they are likely to take the brunt of the sexual misfortunes that the virus causes. That may not be what the men in those states had in mind when they were trying to show how manly they were, but in private, they may end up being a little less manly than they want.