Twenty-First Century Viral Pandemics: A Literature Review of Sexual Transmission and Fertility Implications in Men

Kelly Payne, Peter Kenny, Jason M. Scovell, Kajal Khodamoradi, Ranjith Ramasamy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: The 21st century has seen a series of viral pandemics that have collectively infected millions of individuals. To understand factors that may contribute to viral spread and address long-term health sequelae for survivors, it is important to review evidence regarding viral presence in semen, sexual transmission potential, and possible effects on fertility. Aim: To review the current literature regarding the sexual transmissibility of recent viral pandemics and their effects on semen parameters and fertility. We review evidence for the following viruses: Ebola, Zika, West Nile, pandemic influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and SARS-corona virus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Methods: A literature search was conducted to identify relevant studies. Titles and abstracts were reviewed for relevance. References from identified articles were searched and included, if appropriate. Main Outcome Measures: The main outcome measure of this study was reviewing of peer-reviewed literature. Results: Both the Ebola virus and Zika virus are present in semen, but only the Zika virus shows consistent evidence of sexual transmission. Current evidence does not support the presence of the West Nile virus, pandemic influenza, SARS, and SARS-CoV-2 in semen. The Zika virus appears to alter semen parameters in a way that diminishes fertility, but the effect is likely time limited. The West Nile virus and SARS have been associated with orchitis in a small number of case reports. Viruses that cause febrile illness, such as pandemic influenza, SARS, and SARS-CoV-2, are associated with decreased sperm count and motility and abnormal morphology. SARS and SARS-CoV-2 may interact with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptors present in the testes, which could impact spermatogenesis. Conclusions: We have reported the presence in semen, sexual transmission potential, and fertility side effects of recent viral pandemics. Overall, semen studies and fertility effects are highly understudied in viral pandemics, and rigorous study on these topics should be undertaken as novel pandemics emerge. Payne K, Kenny P, Scovell JM, et al. Twenty-First Century Viral Pandemics: A Literature Review of Sexual Transmission and Fertility Implications for Men. Sex Med Rev 2020;8:518–530.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)518-530
Number of pages13
JournalSexual Medicine Reviews
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Ebola
  • Fertility
  • Semen
  • Sexual Transmission
  • Viral Pandemic
  • Zika

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Twenty-First Century Viral Pandemics: A Literature Review of Sexual Transmission and Fertility Implications in Men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this