SALT LAKE CITY (Gray News) - A study shows there is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 can be sexually transmitted.
Scientists at the University of Utah participated in an international study involving Chinese men who were infected with the new coronavirus and didn’t find it in the semen or testes of the subjects.
While they couldn't rule out the possibility of COVID-19 being sexually transmitted, scientists believe the chances are remote.
“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,” study co-author Dr. James M. Hotaling said. “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.”
The goal of the study was to determine if the virus could be sexually transmitted like Ebola, Zika and other emerging viral pathogens. Researchers collected semen samples of 34 Chinese men one month after they were diagnosed with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.
The study also determined the virus was unlikely to invade human testicular cells.
Researchers say the small sample size and lack of critically ill patients involved in the study are reasons more research may be needed to come to a definitive conclusion.
"It could be that a man who is critically ill with COVID-19 might have a higher viral load, which could lead to a greater likelihood of infecting the semen. We just don't have the answer to that right now," Hotaling says. "But knowing that we didn't find that kind of activity among the patients in this study who were recovering from mild to moderate forms of the disease is reassuring."
Hotaling still cautions that intimate contact can increase the risk of spreading the disease because of the lack of social distancing involved.