A person may have a cold or any other disease that is an airborne-infection. Is their sperm also contagious? Should the person take any precautions?

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    $\begingroup$ Most airborne infectious pathogens (including flu and common cold) will not be sexually transmissible. $\endgroup$ Jul 24 '12 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ Had to laugh at the title. Yes, sperm may indeed be confer other sperm-bearing life-forms so I’d say that it’s contagious. $\endgroup$ Jul 25 '12 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ Why would a pathogen NEED to be airborne to be contagious? $\endgroup$ Jul 25 '12 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think it need to be airborne, but I'm interested in airborne diseases. $\endgroup$ Jul 25 '12 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ @KonradRudolph: Also, sperm can't reproduce without invading, and interfering with the genomes of other human cells. So perhaps they could be classified as some kind of ultra complex virus? $\endgroup$
    – naught101
    Jul 26 '12 at 4:16

I'm unsure about the use of the word "contagious" here. If you would describe it as an organism "catching something" from another only once, this answer applies (vaguely perhaps).

One example of "contagious" sperm: sea urchins spray their sperm (called milt) into the surrounding water, so that it can hopefully fertilize roe, which are fish eggs. The eggs are also expulsed for some species, but for others they stay on the surface of the female sea urchin, as this Wikipedia article explains.

The gonads are lined with muscles underneath the peritoneum, and these allow the animal to squeeze its gametes through the duct and into the surrounding sea water where fertilization takes place. ...

In most cases, the eggs float freely in the sea, but some species hold onto them with their spines, affording them a greater degree of protection.

Thus, it's entirely possible for a female sea urchin to be bombarded by free-floating sperm, to ultimately fertilize the eggs on its surface. I don't know if one would strictly consider this a contagion, but it's what I initially thought of after reading the question.

When referring to sexually transmitted disease however, sperm in itself is not contagious, as it would require the pathogen to "tag along with it" in whichever environment (whether it be airborne or aquatic). Also, if considering impregnation as "contagious", physical contact would certainly be required.

In short: For humans, no. For sea urchins (and likely other aquatic animals), sort of.


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