Sex and COVID-19: What you need to know

This time in our lives is awfully confusing. There are so many words and phrases being thrown out there - "quarantine," "social distancing," and "six feet away" that we are told and sometimes legally ordered to follow. Since there is so much focus on basic ways too "flatten the curve" - or lower the spread of COVID-19, such as hand washing and disinfecting, sex and dating can be thrown off to the side. Here is a guide on how to navigate sex and COVID-19 during this time.

First, I think a lot of folks are wondering if COVID-19 can be transmitted sexually. Technically speaking, there is no evidence to suggest that the virus can be directly transmitted through sex (aka semen or vagina secretion). That's not to say - AT ALL - that you won't get it or transmit it while having sex with a partner. What we DO know is that COVID-19 is transmitted through other secretions (mouth, nose, etc.) which means that it can be contracted through kissing and even through the air. Hence the "six feet away" order. So, you are almost certainly likely to contract COVID-19 through sex regardless of sexual secretions.

Folks are also wondering about having sex with a partner that you live with - and don't live with. The first aspect to think about is the amount of social distancing you and your partner are following or being mandated to following. Simply put - the less you interact with people, the less you are likely to contract the virus. If you and/or your partner can't or don't follow strict social distancing measures for various reasons (work, grocery shopping, etc.) you both are more likely to contract the virus. Basically, no matter what, if one partner contracts the virus, it is highly likely the other partner will contract it as well. So, sex doesn't really matter at this point. You both are free to have sex with each other but know that the virus will be spread regardless. If one person DOES test positive, then follow strict quarantine guidelines in the possibility that the other partner doesn't contract it. So that means no sex, of course.

Well, what about a partner who I don't live with? That also depends on social distancing aspects. It also depends on the number of roommates you and your partner have. You and your partner might be practicing extreme social distancing apart, but if your roommates aren't, then there's really no point. The NYC Health Department states that you should avoid close contact with ANYONE, including sex, that doesn't live in your house.

So, what's the BEST option to remain sexual with your partners but still practice safe social distancing? First, YOU are your best and safest partner. As long as you are washing hands and toys for 20 seconds before and after, you are safe to practice masturbation. Now is a great time to explore solo sex and what makes you feel good. This will be beneficial for you AND your partner when social distancing is no longer needed. Second, technology is your friend!! Skype, facetime, or even call your partner to have some intimate moments while still practicing safe social distancing. It can also be fun and exciting, especially if you haven't experienced it before!

Of course, if you do decide to have sex, make sure you are practicing safe sex with condoms and other forms of contraceptives. Now more than ever is an important time to reduce the risk of an unplanned pregnancy!

Thanks for reading! I hope this has helped give clarification on acceptable sexual practices while we are social distancing.

Take care and wash your hands!

In sex health,


Hi, thanks for stopping by!

My name is Lindsay and I am a Sexual Health & Wellness Educator pursing a Master's in Human Sexuality. Subscribe for more content like this! 

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