Coronavirus likely not sexually transmitted, study finds

Study finds no traces of COVID-19 in semen of men who had previously suffered from the disease


Though it’s known to be spread through respiratory means, coronavirus is likely not sexually transmitted, a new international study has found.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Fertility & Sterility, studied 34 Chinese men who had had mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 the month prior. No evidence of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes the disease – was found in their testes or in collected semen samples.

“The fact that in this small, preliminary study that it appears the virus that causes COVID-19 doesn’t show up in the testes or semen could be an important finding,” co-author Dr. James M. Hotaling said in a release. Hotaling is an associate professor of urology at the University of Utah, one of the institutions participating in the study.

“If a disease like COVID-19 were sexually transmittable, that would have major implications for disease prevention, and could have serious consequences for a man’s long-term reproductive health,” he added.

The authors add that while the study was not comprehensive enough to entirely rule out the possibility of sexual transmission, the findings suggest that the chances appear to be very remote. They also acknowledge that a test subject who had been critically ill with COVID-19 could potentially have a higher viral load that could become present in semen.

Of course, many of the other activities associated with sex – including close contact and kissing – increase the risk of spreading the disease.

@nataliamanzocco

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