Clinical Characteristics and Results of Semen Tests Among Men With Coronavirus Disease

Li D, Jin M, Bao P, Zhao W, Zhang S. Clinical Characteristics and Results of Semen Tests Among Men With Coronavirus Disease 2019. JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(5):e208292. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.8292

Research Letter

Infectious Diseases

May 7, 2020

Discussion

In this cohort study, we found that SARS-CoV-2 can be present in the semen of patients with COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 may still be detected in the semen of recovering patients. Owing to the imperfect blood-testes/deferens/epididymis barriers, SARS-CoV-2 might be seeded to the male reproductive tract, especially in the presence of systemic local inflammation. Even if the virus cannot replicate in the male reproductive system, it may persist, possibly resulting from the privileged immunity of testes. So far, researchers have found 27 viruses associated with viremia in human semen. But the presence of viruses in semen may be more common than currently understood, and traditional non–sexually transmitted viruses should not be assumed to be totally absent in genital secretions.5,6 Studies on viral detection and semen persistence are beneficial to clinical practice and public health, especially concerning viruses that could cause high mortality or morbidity, such as SARS-CoV-2.

This study is limited by the small sample size and the short subsequent follow-up. Therefore, further studies are required with respect to the detailed information about virus shedding, survival time, and concentration in semen.

If it could be proved that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted sexually in future studies, sexual transmission might be a critical part of the prevention of transmission, especially considering the fact that SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the semen of recovering patients.