SARS-CoV-2 has been found in stool, gastrointestinal tract, saliva, and urine samples in the past. This study is the first to conduct research on the virus’s presence in semen. It should be noted that the study is limited in its sample size (only 32 semen samples from different individuals) and the extent of its data (no study of fetal development). With this being said, the paper states that semen may carry SARS-CoV-2, even in recovering patients.
A strong comprehension of a virus’s means of transmission is essential in preventing or controlling its spread. While COVID-19 is mainly passed from person to person via respiratory droplets, there are numerous other potential paths it may take. This study focuses on its presence in semen, paving the way for future studies on its sexual transmission and potential impact on fetal development.
This study began with 50 males (15 years and older) with lab confirmed COVID-19. Only 38 samples were ultimately collected due to issues like erectile dysfunction or death. Data such as time since onset of symptoms, time since hospitalization, time since recovery (where applicable), presence of urogenital (relating to urinary and gential organs) disease, and comorbidities was gathered. Semen samples were tested in a lab for COVID-19.
Of 38 patients who ended up supplying a sample, 23 (60.5%) had recovered prior to the study and 15 (39.5%) were at the acute stage of their infection.
6 patients (15.8%) had semen samples which tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. A significant finding is that 2 of 23 (8.7%) patients who were recovering had samples which tested positive. The data mentioned above (age, urogenital disease history, etc) had no significant effect on test results.
The fact that some recovering patients had positive semen samples suggests sexual transmission may play a role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (future research required). Additionally, SARS-CoV-2 found in the male reproductive tract (due to imperfections barriers in male reproductive parts paired with local inflammation) may result in “privileged immunity of testes.” This study emphasizes its limited scope, but it poses many significant questions (some of which affect viruses previously deemed nonsexually transmitted).