Consensual sex can be a stress relieving and pleasurable way to cope during the pandemic. It can help to ease anxiety and also allows us to express our needs and sexuality. Sexual health is important, but precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during sex.
Risks of COVID-19 Transmission during Sex
Currently there is evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be found in saliva, mucus and feces. Some studies have found the virus in semen at low levels. COVID-19 has not been found in vaginal fluids.
COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection; however, it can be passed on through kissing and close contact, including having sex.
Tips for Safer Sex during COVID-19
You are your own safest partner.
- Masturbation is low-risk for COVID-19.
- Wash hands and toys with soap and water before and after use for 20 seconds. Do not use hand sanitizer on toys or your genitals.
The next safest partner is a consenting partner in your household.
- If you are having sex with a partner, it is safest to do so with someone you live with in your household.
- If you or a partner have symptoms of COVID-19, you should not kiss or have sex/close contact.
There are ways to have safer sex if you have sex with someone outside of your household.
Before Having Sex:
- Always ask your partners if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have a potential exposure to COVID-19 (travel or close contact with positive cases). Even if they pass today, ask again next time, especially if you don’t live together.
- Avoid having sex with individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Avoid having sex if one partner has a health condition that can lead to more severe illness from COVID-19.
- Communicate with your partner about safer sex during COVID-19 in the same way you would for any other sexual health concern. Ask you partner about symptoms of infection or potential exposures before you hook up. Have this conversation to assess risk and establish consent every time.
Safer Sex During COVID-19:
- Try phone sex or video chats as alternative ways to have sex with people outside of your household.
- Try activities with a lower risk, such as mutual masturbation while physical distancing, erotic massage, strip teasing and positions that minimize face-to-face contact.
- Pick larger, more open and well-ventilated spaces or outdoor settings, if possible.
- Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face-to-face contact.
- Wear a face covering and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
Limit Higher Risk Activities:
- Try to limit activities that have a higher risk of spreading COVID-19, such as kissing, rimming, putting objects in your mouth (including your fingers), and positions that have face-to-face contact.
- Limit your physical interactions by reducing the number of sexual partners that you have overall and/or at the same time.
- Use dental dams and condoms to reduce contact with feces and saliva.
After Having Sex:
- Wash yourself and your sex toys with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after sex. Consider covering them with a condom and don't share toys. Do not use hand sanitizer on toys or your genitals.
- Closely monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 and consider getting tested on a more frequent basis.
- If you are having sex/close contact with people outside of your household, take extra precautions when interacting with people at risk for severe COVID-19 illness, such as older adults or people with compromised immune systems.
Continue to practice safer sex practices to prevent STIs and unintended pregnancies.
- COVID-19 is not the only infectious agent to think about during sex!
- Sexual health programs, such as regular testing and family planning, may be different or not available due to COVID-19 restrictions. Prevention of STIs and unintended pregnancy is especially important as it may be difficult to access services at this time.
- Ensure that you use barrier protection (e.g. condoms and dental dams/ condoms cut open during oral sex) and/or other birth control options when possible.
- If you are not planning on getting pregnant, ensure you have an adequate supply of contraception (at least 30 days).
- Make sure you have an adequate supply of condoms and at least 30 days’ worth of PrEP, if you are currently taking PrEP.
- Continue to have open conversations with partners about the risks during COVID-19.
- Follow all regular sexual health recommendations, on top of these additional guidelines, to keep safe during COVID-19.
For Further Information
Call us at (807) 625-5900 or Toll-Free at 1-866-294-6630.
For more information on sexual health and wellness, visit our page on Sex & Sexuality.