Coronavirus found in men’s semen
Coronavirus was found in semen of recovering and acute male COVID-19 patients in a small study conducted in January and February in China, though it remains unknown, according to the CDC, whether the disease can be transmitted sexually.
About 16% of them had evidence of the coronavirus in their semen, the team reported in the journal JAMA Network Open. About a quarter of them were in the acute stage of infection and nearly 9% of them were recovering, the team reported.
“We found that SARS-CoV-2 can be present in the semen of patients with COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 may still be detected in the semen of recovering patients,” Diangeng Li of Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing and colleagues wrote.
“Even if the virus cannot replicate in the male reproductive system, it may persist, possibly resulting from the privileged immunity of testes,” the team added. Privileged immunity means the immune system cannot fully reach the region to attack viral invaders.
The research neither confirms nor denies whether the virus can be sexually transmitted: researchers did not follow up with the participants to determine duration of coronavirus in their semen and whether the men had spread it to their sexual partners.
On the contrary, another small study conducted by Chinese and American researchers with 34 men in Wuhan, China, found the subjects’ semen to be coronavirus-free after a median of 31 days, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Fertility and Sterility journal.
Experts warn there may still be other methods of transmission, as they continue to learn and understand the virus in real-time.
In addition to semen, the CDC says it is unknown whether the virus can spread through vomit, urine and breast milk.