A new study has detected coronavirus in semen.
As a nation, we've been given a very specific set of instructions when it comes to social distancing and limiting the spread of the coronavirus whilst going about our daily lives.
As we settle into Phase Three, however, the rules passed down around loving in lockdown, seem somewhat more vague.
According to the advice on Sexualwellbeing.ie, the HSE’s official portal for sexual health and wellbeing, masturbation is the safest option available to both single people and couples, as the only sexual activity listed that will not spread COVID-19, especially if hands are washed before and after.
As the virus is believed to be spread most commonly through respiratory droplets (by inhaling the droplets or touching surfaces where those droplets have landed), kissing or being sexually active with anyone with symptoms or outside of your household are surefire ways of maximising your risk of contracting the illness.
But now, according to a new study from China, published last week, experts warn there may still be other methods of transmission.
Coronavirus in semen
Back in January, doctors at a hospital in Shangqiu, China, collected samples from 38 men who had been hospitalised with confirmed cases of COVID-19. They detected the virus in the semen of six of the men — four who were at the acute stage of infection, while the other two had already recovered.
Their findings conflicted with a small study conducted by Chinese and American researchers in Wuhan, China, that found no evidence of coronavirus in the semen of recovering patients, leading scientists to conclude that how sick a man is when tested is significant.
Evidence suggesting that other viruses like Zika might be sexually transmitted prompted researchers to investigate whether the same could be true of the coronavirus.
more research needed
To be clear, the original study which detected coronavirus in semen is very limited by the small sample size and as the researchers didn’t follow up with the men regarding specifics, it’s not known whether the virus found was alive or dead, how long it remained in their semen, or whether they could have spread it to their partners during sex.
Currently, there have been no reported positive cases of sexual transmission, but as we continue to learn and understand the virus in real-time, more research is needed before there can be a definitive answer.
Of course, this is all stuff to keep in mind moving forward and to be totally safe, it could be worth considering abstinence if you or your partner identifies as at-risk.