A new study out of China suggests the novel coronavirus can sometimes be detected in infected men’s semen.
The researchers found the microscopic coronavirus present in semen samples provided by six men who were infected with the virus. The study used semen samples from a total of 38 men infected with the virus, meaning 15% of those in the study had coronavirus show up in their semen.
The findings raise questions about whether COVID-19 can be sexually transmitted, although the presence of the virus in some men’s semen doesn’t necessarily mean it can be passed on through sex.
Their research was published this week in the scientific journal JAMA Network Open.
“The presence of viruses in semen may be more common than currently understood, and traditional non-sexually transmitted viruses should not be assumed to be totally absent in genital secretions,” the researchers wrote.
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The researchers recruited the patients in Shanqiu, China from a designated COVID-19 hospital in January and February. They decided to look for the coronavirus in semen because it had already been found in saliva, feces, and urine.
Zika is another non-STI that’s sexually transmitted, and research is ongoing to determine if people can catch Ebola from sex.
The authors were careful to mention this study’s limitations because it used such a small sample size. They say more research is needed to determine if the coronavirus can jump from host to host through sex.