At a time when people everywhere are confined to their homes due to COVID-19, looking for ways to stay entertained, the question is—can I still have sex? Is it safe?
In short—yes, you can still have sex, but with precautions. What do we know right now? This is a respiratory disease, so direct contact with saliva can transmit the virus. While COVID-19 has not been found in semen or vaginal fluid, it has been found in feces of people who are infected. As always, condoms and dental dams can reduce the risk and reduce contact with saliva and feces during anal and oral sex or oral/anal contact.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has offered some excellent guidance on safer sex during these times, which you can read in full here. But here are a few basic tips from NYC Health on how to enjoy sex and to avoid spreading COVID-19:
- You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.
- The next safest partner is someone you live with.Having close contact—including sex—with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19.
- You should avoid close contact—including sex—with anyone outside your household. If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible.
- If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you.
ASHA expert H. Hunter Handsfield also offers some good summary advice: “We would strongly recommend sexually active persons be very selective in their sexual partnerships, pay attention to partners’ health, and limit new partnerships to the fewest possible. The lowest sexual risk of course will exist for mutually monogamous couples.”
For couples from whom pregnancy is a concern, don’t forget contraception as well. Once again, condoms (both internal and external) can fill that role, and telemedicine options are available as well, if you can’t venture out to a clinic or pharmacy.