Coronavirus found in sperm – what does that mean for sexual health?

Traces of coronavirus were recently found in infected men’s sperm in China. Yikes, right?! 

Coronavirus in Sperm

This was discovered earlier in May by a group at Shangqui Municipal Hospital in China. Thirty-eight male patients who had recovered from the virus or were currently infected were tested. Roughly 16% of these patients had traces of the virus in their sperm. Some of the men were at the height of infection and were symptomatic, while about 9% of the men had entered a stage of recovery.  

Another study done by American and Chinese researchers in Wuhan, China found that infected men’s semen was coronavirus free after about 31 days. With this conflicting information, it’s hard to know what the norm is and how long after infection traces of coronavirus can stay in the body, whether that be in sperm or not. 

Upon first reading this I wondered, does this mean that coronavirus is in fact sexually transmitted?! We’ve already known that it can be spread through coughing, sneezing, and saliva a.k.a kissing, but so far it hasn’t been proven that it can be spread through other sexual contact such as penetrative sex. After the findings of these studies coming to light, the researchers still say it’s unclear if COVID-19 can be sexually transmitted. We just don’t know.

So what does this mean for us and our sexual health going forward? Practice safe sex! Practicing safe sex is important at all times to prevent the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Although it isn’t clear if coronavirus constitutes as a sexually transmitted disease, it’s not worth risking. 

You should not have any sexual contact with someone who has symptoms of the virus or has tested positive. That includes kissing or being within six feet of them. Once someone is no longer infected and they’ve been quarantined for at least two weeks, your chance of getting the virus from them through close contact has gone way down. However, you should still maintain safe sex practices just in case those traces of the virus in semen are in fact spreading the disease. As I mentioned, we still don’t know for sure!

In addition to asking a new partner when they last had their STD check up, it would probably be wise to also ask them if they’ve had coronavirus or experienced any of the symptoms. It might feel awkward, silly, or even like you’re being paranoid, but since so much is unknown from this virus, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

This means barrier methods for birth control are your best friend right now! Use condoms when performing oral sex on someone with a penis, and dental dams on someone with a vulva. Regular STDs can still be transmitted through oral sex, so it’s best to use one just in case. Use a condom during penetrative sex as well, whether it’s P in V sex or anal. No studies have been done about the virus being found in vaginal fluids, but gloves and dental dams can be used for extra protection as well if your partner has a vagina. 

Being extra cautious and strictly using safe sex practices is especially important in the coming months if you have a new partner. If your partner is someone you live with or have been quarantining with this whole time, you likely would have infected each other by now and perhaps you don’t need to be as diligent in preventing spreading the virus to one another. With new partners you should always enforce safe sex practices anyway, but with the uncertainty of how long the virus can stay in someone’s system and whether or not it can be spread sexually, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Knowing you’re being safe will put you and your partner’s minds at ease and make for a more enjoyable sexual experience any way. 

Stay safe, stay educated and stay sexy!