Out of the group of recovering coronavirus patients, one in six was discovered to have traces of COVID-19 in their semen, even after no longer being symptomatic. This could mean that the contagious virus can be transmitted through sex, similar to Zika and Ebola which also are found in some semen samples.
Although the testing was not conclusive that coronavirus can be passed during intercourse, it is being considered a possibility.
The outcome of the research prompted the team to issue a warning to refrain from sex while infected and during recovery.
In the world, so far, there have been 3.7 million cases of coronavirus reported.
However, this statistic does not include those who have not been hospitalised or tested.
Meaning that potentially millions more could have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19.
The study took place at Shangqiu Municipal Hospital, the only designated centre for the treatment of COVID-19 in Shangqiu, Henan province.
Men over the age of 15 who had tested positive for the virus between January 26 and February 16 gave semen samples.
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39.5 per cent of the 38 men were in the acute stage of infection, while the rest had recovered.
The most important observation by the researchers was the 8.7 per cent that had recovered from the virus, yet still had traces in their semen.
Conclusions of the tests revealed no clear pattern between the men
The participants were between their 20’s to 50s. and the symptoms started six and 16 days prior to providing the semen sample.
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Implications of coronavirus’s impact upon the male reproductive system are yet to be studied.
However, urologists at Nanjing University have previously suggested that COVID-10 can cause testicular damage.
The men in the Shanggiu Hospital study were not called back to provide another sample, meaning it’s hard to tell how long the virus can remain in semen for.
The authors of the paper noted that the coronavirus may one day be found to be sexually transmissible.
They wrote: “If it could be proved that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted sexually in future studies, Sexual transmission might be a critical part of the prevention of transmission.”
“Especially considering the fact that SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the semen of recovering patients.
“Even if the virus cannot replicate in the male reproductive system, it may persist.
“Abstinence or condom use might be considered as preventive means for these patients.
“To avoid contact with the patient’s saliva and blood may not be enough since the survival of SARS-CoV-2 in a recovering patient’s semen maintains the likelihood to infect others.”
This breakthrough study could open the door to more in-depth observations and prove whether the virus can be transferred during sex.
Professor Richard Sharpe, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh gave his opinion on the research.
“This finding raises the possibility that COVID-19 might also be transmissible via semen (and thus via sexual contact), perhaps including during the recovery phase – which would have disease management implications.”
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