As the global response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, many questions have arisen about how to stop the spread of this serious illness. Many recommended precautions involve seriously changing the way we live our everyday lives and think about our health, and sexual health is an important part of that. To help answer some of these questions, Fenway Health has created a guide to COVID-19 and your sexual health.
At the moment, the CDC recommends social distancing (minimum of 6 feet) as your best defense against COVID-19. Remember: you are your safest sex partner. Self-pleasure is a great option and is a sure way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Communicating with our partner(s) virtually (known as cybersex or sexting) is a great alternative that abides by the social distancing recommendation. Avoid sex with anyone outside of your household. If you have sex with anyone outside of your household, have as few partners as possible. Talk with your partner(s) and create a game plan on how you can limit your risk for COVID-19.
COVID-19 has not yet been found in semen or vaginal fluid. We know that other coronaviruses do not transmit through sex either, however much is still to be learned about COVID-19. When individuals have physical sexual contact, it is very likely that the fluids that transmit COVID-19 will be present. Using the social distancing recommendation of 6 feet, oral sex may still put you at risk of COVID-19. Using condoms during oral sex can reduce contact with fluids that have the potential to spread the virus and will protect against other STIs. But unlike other STIs, condoms may not be sufficient to protect against COVID-19, since fingers coming in contact with infectious droplets can transmit the virus.
The tricky thing about COVID-19 is that some who are infected will never show symptoms. Testing for COVID-19 is almost impossible to get for asymptomatic persons and takes days to get the result back. A negative test one day does not mean that someone has not acquired the virus the next day. In the way some people never show symptoms of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis before passing it to their partner(s), some folks will never show symptoms of COVID-19 before passing it to their partner(s). Skip sex if you or your partner(s) are not feeling well.
Social distancing is the best way to prevent COVID-19. Until more is known about this virus, staying home is a great way to prevent you from getting sick and stop the virus from spreading further.
You can find our full guide to COVID-19 and your sexual health here.