A new study by researchers in China found evidence of the coronavirus in the semen of infected men raising concerns that the virus could be sexually transmitted.
The study, by doctors at China’s Shangqiu Municipal Hospital, found six men in a group of 38 patients being treated for severe coronavirus infections tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in their semen.
Of the six, four men were still infected and two were recovering.
The results seem to contradict an earlier study released in April in which no traces of the virus were found in a group of 34 men with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.
The researchers working on the new study say the findings were ‘preliminary’ and based on a small number of patients.
“Further studies are required with respect to the detailed information about virus shedding, survival time and concentration in semen,” the team wrote in their study.
Independent experts, pointing to the small size of the study group, say the new findings are ‘interesting’ but don’t necessarily mean the virus can be transmitted through sex.
Dr. Ryan Berglund, a urologist with the Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, told CBS News the report doesn’t “constitute concrete evidence that COVID-19 can be sexually transmitted.”
“I think that’s premature,” added Berglund. “You have to look at this as a sign that semen, as along with a number of other body fluids, can contain the virus.”
Allan Pacey, a professor of andrology at Britain’s Sheffield University, told Reuters the study didn’t conclusively find whether the virus found was active and capable of causing infection.
“However, we should not be surprised if the virus which causes COVID-19 is found in the semen of some men, since this has been shown with many other viruses such as Ebola and Zika,” he said.
It’s worth noting that earlier studies have found traces of the virus in stool as well, which means rimming could put people at risk.
So, when it comes to having sex, keep in mind the guidance from the New York City Health Department when considering having sex.
First, you are your safest sex partner as masturbation will not spread COVID-19.
Second, the next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading the virus.
And remember, kissing can easily pass the virus on to someone else.