- Researchers in China have discovered
traces of SARS-CoV-2 in the semenof patients with COVID-19 and those who recovered, suggesting that COVID-19 might be able to be sexually transmitted.
- It’s important to understand that while the coronavirus was found in a small sample size of semen in this particular study, this does not necessarily mean that the virus itself is transmitted sexually.
best way to protect yourself from COVID-19is to stay home to decrease the risk of transmission. Even if you exhibit no symptoms, you may still be a carrier of the virus.
As the weeks fighting COVID-19 wear on, there’s so much that researchers and the medical community are learning about the coronavirus on a daily basis. Most recently, researchers in China have discovered
“With any viral infection, it replicates, circulates, and gets into a lot of tissue. It’s not surprising that they’re finding SARS-CoV-2 in multiple different bodily tissues and fluids,” said Dr. Matthew G. Heinz, hospitalist, internist, Tucson Medical Center, and former director of provider outreach in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration. Heinz assisted in the domestic response to the Ebola crisis.
The study tested 38 participants who provided a semen specimen. Twenty-three of these patients had achieved clinical recovery and 15 patients were at the acute stage of infection. The results of the semen testing found that six patients (15.8 percent) had positive results for SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus. The six were composed of four from the 15 in the acute stage and two from the 23 recovered. There was no significant difference based on age, urogenital disease history, days since onset, days since hospitalization, or days since clinical recovery.
It has been confirmed that COVID-19 is transmitted human-to-human through
“I’m not shocked by this,” said Dr. Jill Grimes, board certified family physician and author of “The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness.” However, she added, “We don’t know yet if detectable COVID viral particles in semen are infectious.”
“It [the study] doesn’t establish that sexual transmission occurred,” said Heinz. “But confirming the presence of the virus in semen does make it something that needs to be researched and verified.”
One of the issues with COVID-19 is that the medical community is, essentially, all in medical school at the same time with respect to learning about the virus, whether it’s a new study or new symptom.
What we know for certain is that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets when a person is in close contact with someone who has respiratory symptoms, like coughing or sneezing. It can also occur through contact with surfaces in the immediate vicinity, or with objects used by a person with COVID-19.
While the long-term effects of the recent semen study are still inconclusive, the guaranteed way to protect yourself and others from contracting the coronavirus sexually and developing COVID-19 is to practice safe sex. This is true of protecting yourself or others from getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In this instance, since we are meant to be self-isolating at this time, except for essential activity, abstinence is recommended.
“For me, this is honestly a non-issue, because if you are having sex with someone, you are for sure putting yourself at risk of potential COVID transmission purely from close respiratory contact,” said Grimes. “More and more we are seeing that it’s the close, extended viral exposure time spent in close proximity, especially indoors or in a poorly ventilated or small room, that is most effectively transmitting COVID.”
However, she adds, if you’re quarantining with someone — hanging out, not wearing masks, eating and talking together — then it’s unlikely having sex would significantly increase your risk of transmission.
An STI is an infection that’s passed from one person to another through sexual contact and activity. According to the
- human papillomavirus (HPV)
- hepatitis C
If you’re having sex, the best way to prevent STIs is to use barriers, like condoms and dams.