Coronavirus can be transmitted through sex, fear experts after finding the deadly pathogen in the semen samples of recovering men. Researchers in China examined semen samples from 38 men who were diagnosed with COVID-19, including some who had recovered from the disease, and six of them had traces of the deadly virus in their semen, according to Reuters.
The study, conducted by doctors at China's Shangqiu Municipal Hospital, revealed the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 can spread through sexual intercourse, contradicting previous studies that claimed the virus cannot be transmitted through sex.
"This opens up the possibility that one route of infection may be through sexual contact," said former chair of the British Fertility Society, and professor of andrology at University of Sheffield, Allan Pacey.
He also noted that the study's findings should not come as a surprise given that other viruses like Zika and Ebola can spread through sex and can stay in semen longer than in other bodily fluids. Although evidence to support whether or not Ebola can be passed on through sex is less clear, it is "strongly possible," according to the World Health Organization.
The researchers added that although the findings were preliminary and based on only a small group of infected men, additional research is required to confirm whether sexual transmission of COVID-19 is a real possibility and answer some of the unanswered questions, such as how long after an infection can the virus be found in the semen.
Abstain from sex or use a condom, say researchers
Their recent findings prompted the team to ask people to abstain from sex or use condoms while engaging in sexual intercourse while infected with coronavirus or during the recovery stages until the research is conclusive.
"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, the research team wrote in the paper published in JAMA Network Open.
"Abstinence or condom use might be considered as preventive means for these patients," the team, led by led by Dr Diangeng Li, of the Chinese People's Liberation Army General Hospital, Beijing, added.