Is sex safe during COVID-19 pandemic?

It is not unimaginable that with so many couples locked down within the confines of their homes 24/7, that close physical proximity could result in increased sexual activity, giving rise to questions regarding how safe sex is during these troubled times. COVID-19 disease or infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus has gripped the world and has taken the form of a pandemic affecting 175 nations and territories across the globe.

Image Credit: PPstudio / Shutterstock
Image Credit: PPstudio / Shutterstock

Recommendations and answers to frequently asked questions regarding sexual intercourse between those affected by the COVID-19 disease were provided to the Guardian by leading experts.

The experts are Dr. Jessica Justman, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Dr. Carlos E Rodríguez-Díaz, professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and Dr. Julia Marcus, infectious disease epidemiologist, and professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Is sexual intercourse OK during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Experts warn that if one of the partners is COVID-19 positive, sex should be avoided. Isolation of the infected person has been advised, and no contact with the uninfected family members and partners is recommended.

Sexual intercourse is not a taboo for uninfected partners locked down inside their homes add experts. In fact, sexual intercourse could help relieve some of the anxiety and stress and bring the couples closer to each other.

Dr. Carlos E. Rodríguez-Díaz, in a statement, said, “There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted via sexual intercourse, either vaginal or anal. However, kissing is a prevalent practice during sex, and the virus can be transmitted via saliva. Therefore, the virus can be transmitted by kissing.”

Can COVID-19 be transmitted from one person to another via sexual intercourse?

As of now, there has been no indication that COVID-19 can be transmitted from one person to another via sexual intercourse. The transmission is known to occur via respiratory droplets, say experts. It can also be transmitted if an uninfected person touches a surface that has been contaminated by respiratory droplets containing the virus. The experts advise that vaginal or anal intercourse does not spread the infection. Still, kissing is a common practice during sex, and the virus may be transmitted from the infected person to the partner via the saliva contaminated with the virus. Transmission via oral sex thus is also a possibility.

Professor Claudia Estcourt, an expert from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said, “It is safe for people in a household which has been self-isolating for over 14 days to have sex. But remember that every time someone goes out of their household, that person has the potential to acquire the virus. You will need to keep resetting the 14-day clock if one of you is in contact with someone with coronavirus or develops symptoms.”

Having sex with someone who has been in contact with a person with COVID-19 is also a no-no say, experts.

The health department from the United States has published a booklet outlining the answers to FAQs regarding sex during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidelines state, “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 experts behind the guidelines say that vaginal fluid or semen have not been tested yet, but SARS-CoV 2 virus has been found in feces. MERs and SARs belong to the same family of viruses, and those are also not transmitted sexually.

Can one use sex toys? How to make sure they do not transmit the infection?

The usual rules for using sex toys and keeping them clean apply. All sex toys must be cleaned using soap and water. This would help prevent several sexually transmitted infections.

Connecting with a new partner for sex -  is it OK?

With the lockdowns in place in most countries across the world, people are stuck inside their homes and not able to meet up with new people for sex. This makes connecting with unknown potential sexual partners difficult. Right now, because of the physical distancing, experts speculate that there may be fewer people connecting for sex for the next few weeks. Other forms of connecting for sex, including sexting, explicit video calls, masturbation, and erotica, could still be practiced and enjoyed. Several experts have said that the present times could instead be ideal for getting to know potential partners through connecting via social media or via phone calls and maintaining physical distancing.

“Consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting, or chat rooms may be options for you,” state the NYC health guidelines.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Kushal Kumar Kushal Kumar India says:

    Why   Testing  For  Covid-19   appears    a  Must,  Both  In  Symptomatic  And  Asymptomatic   Situations?    
                     The  world  learnt  about   a  new  danger   to  health  coming   when  W.H.O.   brought   to  global  notice   on  14  January   ,  2020   that   novel  Coronavirus   has  taken  birth  in  Wuhan  ,  China  and  that  it  has   potential  to  spread  to  other  parts  of  the  world.   The   novel  Coronavirus  was  officially  designated  as   Covid-19.  Looking  back  ,   the   virus  began   noticeable    spread   after   about  mid-March  ,  2020   ,  taking  the  world   through  a  major  worrisome  storm   in   about    a  month  or  so   after.   As   the  month  of  June  ,  2020   comes  to  a  close  ,   Covid-19  has  already   brought  the  world  to  a  stage  as  if  it  were  gasping  for  a  breath.   It  is  not  to  say  that  the  world  has  not  taken  recourse  to  every   precaution  within  its  reach.  But  in  the  absence  of   an  effective  cure  by  way  of  vaccine  or   drug  ,  the   precautions  within  human  reach  seem   to  have  had  no  capacity  to   overawe   spread-fury   of  Covid-19.   Such  precautions  were  and   continue  to  be    -  social  distancing  ,   lockdown  ,  quarantine  ,    covering   mouth  and  nose  portion  with  a  mask   ,   washing  hands   a  number  of  times  with    soap  in  a  required   manner   and  the  like.    
                    There  are  two  types  of  Covid-19  cases   -  those  showing  symptoms  and  others  not  showing  symptoms.  In  both  the  cases  ,  testing  for  Covid-19  can  be  more  meaningful  for  more  than  one  reason.   The  results  of   testing   ,  if   negative  ,   can  reassure  those   going  in  for  sex  with  their  partner  or  otherwise  ,  that   they  are  safe  from  the   angle  of   Covid-19.  This  Vedic  astrology  writer  chanced  upon  reading  a   news  report    -  “Research  says  30  percent   of  Americans  broke  quarantine  for  booty  call”   -  published  on  24 June 2020  at  The  news  report   refers  to  the  survey   of   two  thousand  Americans  ,  engineered  by  OnePoll  on  behalf  of  MysteryVibe  ,  which  found  that  three  in  ten  have  broken  quarantine  to  have  sex.    Other   important  points  revealed  in  the  said  news  report  of   24 June  2020   read  like  this  :-
    “   The  survey  found  that  58 percent  of  those  surveyed  were  in  quarantine  at  home  with  their  partners.  It  said  a  whopping  76 percent   of  respondents  said  they  have  used  lockdown  as  an  opportunity  to  spice  up  their  sex  lives  with  their  partners  and  78 percent  said  they  were  having  more  sex  during  the  lockdown.  Interestingly  ,  65 percent  of  respondents  said  they  are  having  sex  just  because  they  are  bored ,  60 percent  said  they  are  experiencing  sexual   burnout.”    A   closer   reading  of  the  news  report  suggests  that  it    cannot    be  said   to  be   representing   overall  picture  of  America  as  a  much  larger   survey  could  have   contributed   to  inspiring   confidence   on  a  firmer  footing.     Still  ,     it  has  certain  useful  pointers  -  recourse  to  sex   in  the  absence  of   clear  knowledge  through  Covid-19  test   could  be  fraught  with  danger.  
                 Another  news  report   in  June  2020   said  that  40  percent  of  Covid-19   infection  was  revealed   in  age  group  20  to  39  among  young  adults  in  America.
                     In  this  context  ,  it  may  be  relevant  to  share  with  readers  the  predictive  alerts  of  this  Vedic  astrology  writer   for  more  care  and  appropriate  strategy    in  article  -“ Potential  of  stars  for   Italy  in  soon  coming  year  2020”   -  published   at   on  15  December  ,  2019.   The    text  of  the  predictive  alert  in  the  article   covering  a  period  of  three  and  a  half  months  from    mid-March  to   June  2020,   reads  like  this  :-
    “  4.  Some  health  hazards  or  health  concerns  involving  digestive  system    ,    venereal  or  sex  related  disorders   in  the  body  could  cause  worry  ,  calling  for  more  care  and  appropriate  strategy.  
       7.  Last  about  two  months  of  November  and  December  2020  ,  look  to  be  raking  up  hidden  issues……………………….This  scenario   can  also  mean  worrisome  ailments  involving  respiratory  system  in  the  body  or  venereal  disease  or  increase  in  ailments  relating  to  nerves”.  
                The   predictive  alert   bringing  forth   need   for   more  care  and  appropriate  strategy   involving  digestive  system  ,  nerves  ,  sex   in  relation  to  health  during  mid-March  to   June  2020   was  also   brought  out  in   another  predictive   article  -  “  Planetary  indications  for  Ireland  in  2020”  -   brought  to  public  domain  widely   on  12  January  ,  2020.    The  related  text  from  the  article   is  reproduced  here  :-
       “But  a  period  of  three  and  a  half  months  from  mid-March  to  June  in  2020  has  potential  or  likelihood  to  introduce  unexpected  worrisome  concerns  relating  to  ………………...  War  or  war-like  conditions  across  the  globe  may  impact  Ireland   as  well.  Serious  health  concerns  can  make  presence  during  this  period  ,  covering  stomach ,  nerves  ,  sex  and  the  like.”
             In  conclusion  ,  it  can  be  observed  that  the  findings  in  the  survey  report   in  relation  to  America  brought  out  on  24  June  2020  ,   enable  drawing   the  inference  that   during    unemployment     ,   lockdown  or  quarantine    ,  sex   may  have  probably   contributed   something   to    increase   Covid-19  infection  during   mid-March  to  June  2020.   But    that   finding  goes  to  make  this  writer’s      predictive  alert    on  15  December  2019  or  on   12  January  2020    meaningful   ----     that   there  was  likelihood  of   health  hazards  or    serious  health  worries  on  account  of  digestive  system  ,   nerves  and  sex   during   the  mid-March  to  June  2020.   That  being  so  ,  full-fledged   Covid-19  testing   could   have  proved  helpful  in  containing   the  infection.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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