Coronavirus Is Detected In Semen, But You Shouldn't Freak About it Being Sexually Transmitted Yet

A recent study out of China showed that out of 38 men being treated for COVID, 16% of them, or around six people, showed that there was evidence of SARS Co-V2, aka the genetic material that causes the COVID virus, in their semen. Of the six that tested positive, four were still infected, and two were recovering from the virus at the time the sample was taken.

While COVID can also be found in stool and other bodily fluids like urine, blood, and cerebral spinal fluid, your likelihood of coming into contact with semen may be higher than like, cerebral spinal fluid (hopefully? idk), so the idea that it can be found in semen could understandably freak you out a little.

Before you spiral, Dr. Jaimie Meyer, MD, an infectious disease specialist from Yale told Cosmopolitan that this news does not necessarily mean that COVID can be transmitted sexually, and that more research is needed.

Basically, the study was so small and didn’t dive into specifics about whether or not the virus was live or dead when found in semen — v. important — (and remember, two of the men who tested positive for semen traces were recovering), so for now, just know that while SARS CoV2 can be detected in semen, it does not necessarily mean that COVID can be transmitted sexually.

As for why? A few things. For starters, scientists don’t know whether the virus found in the semen was live or dead yet. Like we said up top, only the genetic material of SARS Co-V2, the virus that causes COVID, was found in semen. Finding a bag of flour in the pantry is not finding a cake in the pantry, but y’know, parts are there.

“We still think that the primary mode of transmission is through droplets,” Dr. Meyer explains, adding that “it’s from droplets that actually invade the nasal mucosa and the upper respiratory tract,” so basically, mouth/nose germs going up into someone else’s mouth/nose. “Sex” is kind of an umbrella term and can mean much more than just penis-in-vagina sex, and often includes lots of kissing and making out, so keep that in mind. “If transmission does occur during sex, it’s likely from kissing and close contact,” says Dr. Meyer.

However, Dr. Meyer points out, this does mean there are “some potential implications” in the case of oral sex, because if (and that’s a big ‘if’, people,) the virus were live, “it would potentially be making contact with the oral mucosa.” However, you can’t really re-write new guidelines for sex based on the findings of six people out of 38 when you don’t even know if the virus was dead or alive inside the semen. So more research is needed.

Every virus is different, and you can’t say for sure how much of a threat it poses through sexual transmission until you have more info. For example, Ebola has been found in semen of recovered Ebola patients, but there is no evidence that Ebola can be spread through sex.

On the other hand, Zika, has also been found in semen, and can be transmitted through sex, even after someone’s symptoms end.

As for now, Dr. Meyer notes that there have “certainly been no reported cases of COVID being sexually transmitted,” and, that “you have a much greater risk still of other sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or HIV.” So, yeah, here’s your daily reminder that while COVID seems like the entire world right now, there are other things to worry about that we know definitively can be sexually transmitted, so always practice safe sex.

Of course, this is all stuff to keep in mind moving forward. If you’re still in a state that hasn’t eased lockdown restrictions, please still stay the eff home and be safe. News that SARS Co-V2 semen might not pose a threat to you through sexual transmission is not reason to run out and hornily breathe in a bunch of strangers’ faces or vice versa.

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