Chinese scientists have detected coronavirus in the semen of infected men but further research will be needed to determine whether the virus can be sexually transmitted.
The findings from a study of coronavirus patients at a Chinese hospital were published on Thursday in the JAMA Network Open medical journal.
COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets or contact and the virus has also been detected in feces, saliva and urine.
Researchers at the Shangqiu Municipal Hospital in China's Henan Province conducted a study to determine whether the virus was present in semen.
They tested the semen of 38 coronavirus patients aged 15 to their 50s.
Genetic material from the coronavirus was found in the semen of six patients -- four of whom were at the "acute stage of infection" and two of whom were "recovering."
The researchers noted that the study was "limited by the small sample size" and further research would be required to determine whether the virus can be sexually transmitted.
"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," the study said.
"Abstinence or condom use might be considered as preventive means for these patients," it said.
© 2020 AFP