It's In Semen?!
Even men’s sperm isn’t safe from the coronavirus.
New research has brought forth evidence that COVID-19 can be found in the semen of infected men. This data slightly contradicts an earlier study released in late April. That Chinese study found no traces of the coronavirus in the semen of 34 men with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. That study was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
The new research came from a study at Shangqiu Municipal Hospital in China. They supplied samples from 38 COVID-19 patients, according to CBS News. More specifically, the study was led by Dr. Weiguo Zhao of the People's Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing. He and his colleagues published their findings on May 7 in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Thankfully, the disease was only found in the semen of six men out of the 38. But, the fact that the virus was found in semen at all is still unsettling. Though, not necessarily surprising as the virus was found in stool and other bodily fluids, as earlier reported. In addition, infectious diseases are often found in semen. The study points out that 27 different viruses have been found in human semen before.
“We should not be surprised if the virus which causes COVID-19 is found in the semen of some men since this has been shown with many other viruses such as Ebola and Zika,” said Allan Pacey of Britain’s Sheffield University told Reuters in response to the study.
Though, perhaps the fact that we don’t know why it appeared in some and not all is even scarier. The virus was found in six of the 38 men. Four of those men were still infected while two were recovering.
Can You Catch COVID-19 Through Sex?
Despite this new finding, researchers insist that this doesn’t confirm that COVID-19 can be sexually transmitted.
“I think that's premature,” Dr. Ryan Berglund of Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute told CBS News. “You have to look at this as a sign that semen, as along with a number of other body fluids, can contain the virus.”
“Further studies are required with respect to the detailed information about virus shedding, survival time and concentration in semen,” the team wrote in their study.
Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore agrees on this matter.
“We know the virus is transmitted efficiently through the respiratory route and we have not seen any documented cases of sexual transmission, therefore this may not necessarily represent proof of sexual transmissibility via the male genital tract,” Adalja noted.
Despite health experts being suspicious of whether COVID-19 can be sexually transmitted, they also recommend against risky sexual actions during the pandemic. Besides recommending that men stick to masturbation and self-pleasuring themselves, health experts say men should stick to having sex with people they are socially distancing with.
“You are your safest sex partner,” the document explained. “Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after.”
“The next safest partner is someone you live with,” health officials added. “Having close contact– including sex — with a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19.”