Coronavirus found in semen: can it be transmitted sexually?

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A coronavirus was found in the semen of male COVID-19 patients recovering and in the acute phase in a small study conducted in January and February in China, but it is unknown, according to the CDC, whether the disease can be sexually transmitted.

3D illustration of sperm or sperm moving to the left

It is not known if COVID-19 can be transmitted by semen.

Getty

HIGHLIGHTS

In the study, originally published on JAMA Network Open and conducted in Shangqiu, China, six patients – 15.8% – from 38 COVID-19 men who tested positive had the virus in their sperm.

Four of these men with COVID-19 in their semen were in the acute stage of infection, while the other two had already recovered.

Research neither confirms nor denies whether the virus can be transmitted sexually: the researchers did not follow up with participants to determine how long the coronavirus was in their sperm and whether men had transmitted it to their sexual partners.

On the contrary, another small study by Chinese and American researchers with 34 men in Wuhan, China, found that the subjects’ sperm were free of coronavirus after a median of 31 days, according to the journal Fertility and Sterility of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. .

A co-author of the Wuhan study told the Associated press that the Shangqiu study patients were more sick and actively sick, which may explain the different results.

“We learn this virus everyday … People should abstain or have safe sex after being sick,” says Dr. Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology who focuses on infectious diseases spread at the Geffen School of UCLA Medicine, CNN interview on the subject.

Key context

Experts believe that the coronavirus is spread mainly by respiratory droplets transmitted by direct ingestion – such as in a conversation or kiss – or from a surface infected with a liquid to spit, cough or sneeze on. However, the disease can also spread through the air and by accident ingestion of feces. Experts warn that there may be other methods of transmission as they continue to learn and understand the virus in real time. Besides sperm, CDC says it is unknown whether the virus can spread through vomit, urine and breast milk.

Further reading

Clinical features and results of semen tests in men with coronavirus 2019 ((JAMA Open Network)

Coronavirus detected in semen; it is still unclear whether the virus can be transmitted sexually (Associated press via Los Angeles Times)

No evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in male semen recovering from COVID-19 ((Fertility and sterility)

COVID-19 Clinical Questions: Questions and Answers (CDC)

Why you should rinse the lid: experts warn of faecal-oral transmission of COVID-19 ((Forbes)

Full coverage and live updates on Coronavirus

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