March 25, 2020 3 min read

Is sex safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Sex is safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but not all sex is safe.  Take the following things into consideration:

1. Don’t have sex with sick partners (even if the diagnosis of COVID-19 has not been confirmed yet).

If your partner is sick, they need to be in isolation. They should sleep in their own room if possible and you should try to only socialise with them outside.  You must keep a distance of at least 1.5m from them and up to 6 meters if they are sneezing! I strongly discourage having sex with them.  Everything around them could be contaminated with the virus and it is not worth taking the risk at this stage.  Use this opportunity to have phone sex if you have never done it before!

Please note: This is not the same as HIV. When the HIV epidemic began, people were also discouraged from having sex with HIV positive people. We know now that safe sex is possible. In fact, HIV positive people can have perfectly normal and safe sex lives.  This COVID-19 virus is going to be in your partner’s body for a very short time and is extremely contagious. Within about two weeks, you will be able to safely have sex with them again.  We are not shaming anybody with the virus, we are just trying to curb the spread of the virus to prevent deaths and help health workers cope with the burden.

 2. Rather avoid kissing during COVID-19.

We know now that people can be infected a few days before they become sick.  You should not kiss your partner if they are sick, but just as a precaution, don’t kiss them on the mouth at all.  Kissing on the rest of the body is still permitted, but only if they are not sick. This is a good time to focus on all of those other erogenous zones!

In some of our cultures, friends and family often kiss each other on the mouth. STOP! Perhaps consider becoming more ‘European’ and go for the cheek from here on (but for now, remember to not even hug anyone who is not living with you!). You can greet each other as you please when the pandemic is over, but for now, don’t kiss anybody on the mouth, especially not kids and elderly people!  Since this outbreak, my one-year-old insists on kissing me on the mouth whenever my face is within thirty centimeters from hers! It can’t always be avoided but try at least!

Don’t stop showing love to your family.  If you are isolating and nobody is sick, as many hugs and cuddles as possible are encouraged!  If you are not isolating, you have to be more careful.

3. Some sexual practices are more dangerous during COVID-19.

Having sex with somebody that is not living with you is the opposite of social isolation.  This is discouraged at this stage.

Up to now, as far as I know, the virus has not been found in seminal or vaginal fluid, but certainly in feces and urine.  Keep that in mind when you decide on your sexual practices.  Now is the time to bring out the dental dams!

4. Remember basic safe sex principles during COVID-19.

Basic safe sex principles still apply of course. The consequence of an STI or an unplanned pregnancy can be much more far-reaching than that of contracting COVID 19.  Make sure you are using a reliable contraceptive if you are not planning to fall pregnant and use condoms to protect yourself against STIs.

Is COVID-19 Sexually Transmitted?No, according to our current knowledge, it is not sexually transmitted, meaning that it is not transmitted via seminal or vaginal fluids. BUT you can certainly get it from someone who is infected if you are having sex with them, purely because you are in such close contact with them and you are likely going to get into contact with their sputum.

Written by Dr Elna Rudolph – Clinical Head of My Sexual Health
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