Can I have sex during the covid-19 pandemic? Yes, but consider using harm reduction strategies to reduce the health risks to yourself, your partners, our campus and our community.
Here are some tips for how to enjoy safer sex AND reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.:
1. Learn how COVID-19 spreads:
- You can get COVID-19 from a person who has it.
- The virus spreads through particles in the saliva, mucus or breath of people with COVID-19, even from people who do not have symptoms.
- We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex.
- The virus has been found in the semen and feces (poop) of people with COVID-19.
- We do not know if COVID-19 can be spread through vaginal or anal sex.
- We know that other coronaviruses do not easily spread through sex. This means sex is not likely a common way that COVID-19 spreads.
2. Have sex only with people close to you:
- 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.
- Have sex only with consenting partners. To learn more about consent, visit IC's SHARE website.
- Limit close contact — including sex — with anyone outside your household. If you do have sex with others outside of your household, have as few partners as possible and pick partners you trust. Talk about COVID-19 risk factors, just as you would discuss PrEP, condoms, and other safer sex topics. Ask them about COVID-19 before you hook up.
- Do they have symptoms or have they had symptoms in the last 14 days? Most people with COVID-19 have symptoms, but asymptomatic spread is possible. Fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath are symptoms to ask about. Note that asking about symptoms is not a perfect way to know whether someone has COVID-19.
- Have they been diagnosed with COVID-19 using a nasal swab or saliva test? People who have recovered from COVID-19 at least 10 days from the day their symptoms started and who have not had fever for at least three days are likely no longer infectious.
- If two is company then three (or more) is definitely a crowd. Large gatherings of any type are not safe during COVID-19. Close contact with multiple people should be avoided. But, if you decide to find a crowd, below are tips to reduce your risk of spreading or getting COVID-19:
- Limit the size of your guest list. Keep it intimate.
- Go with a consistent sex partner.
- Pick larger, more open, and well-ventilated spaces.
- Wear a face covering, avoid kissing, and do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Bring an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- If you usually meet your sex partners online, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting, subscription-based fan platforms, sexy “Zoom parties” or chat rooms may be options for you.
- If you decide to have sex outside of your circle of contacts or a hook up:
- Closely monitor yourself for symptoms.
- Consider getting a test for COVID-19 on a more frequent basis (monthly or within five to seven days of a hookup).
- Take precautions interacting with people at risk for severe COVID-19 illness such as people over 65 years of age or those with serious medical conditions.
- Be vigilant with face coverings and healthy hand hygiene to minimize risk to others.
4. Take care during sex:
- Kissing can easily pass the virus. Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your small circle of close contacts.
- Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread the virus. Virus in feces may enter your mouth and could lead to infection.
- Wear a face covering or mask. Maybe it’s your thing, maybe it’s not, but during COVID-19 wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth is a good way to add a layer of protection during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can spread the virus further, and if you or your partner have COVID-19 and don’t know it, a mask can help stop that spread.
- You can be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.
- Masturbate together. Use physical distance and face coverings to reduce the risk.
- Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva, semen or feces during oral or anal sex. Free safer sex supplies are available from your RA (if you're living on campus) and in Hammond Health Center. In downtown Ithaca, check out Planned Parenthood!
- Washing up before and after sex is more important than ever.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Wash sex toys with soap and warm water.
- Disinfect keyboards and touch screens that you share with others.
5. Do not have sex (especially kissing) if you or your partner(s) are not feeling well, have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to covid and told to self-quarantine or isolate.
- It's also important to consider if you or your partner(s) have medical conditions that increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. If so, you may want to avoid all physical sexual interactions at this time.
6. Prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy by consistently using birth control and/or condoms as appropriate to your sexual practices. Free safer sex supplies - including external and internal condoms, lube, and oral dams, are available from your RA (if you're living on campus) and in Hammond Health Center. In downtown Ithaca, check out Planned Parenthood!
Adapted from: NYC Health Safer Sex and Covid-19, www1.nyc.gov