How To Make Love or Have Sex In This Era Of COVID-19(Coronavirus)
coronavirus also known as COVID-19 has been quickly spreading around the world. In the United States, as well as in other countries, this has led to increasing calls to engage in social distancing practices. Many are wondering if it’s safe to date and/or have sex during the coronavirus pandemic.
Can Coronavirus Be Sexually Transmitted?
The question of whether COVID-19 is sexually transmitted is largely irrelevant to the risks of having sex with someone who is infected. Coronavirus is transmitted, among other ways, through droplet infection. Secretions from the mouth (consisting of saliva and mucus) and nose can contain the virus. Even if you don’t kiss the person you are having sex with, you are likely to be breathing closely together. You are likely to be touching the same surfaces, which someone could have touched with soiled fingers. Therefore, it doesn’t much matter if coronavirus can be transmitted through sex.
If you’re close enough to have sex, you’re close enough to be exposed to COVID-19 through other means.
That said, although it is too soon to have data on COVID-19, there is no evidence that previous types of coronavirus have been found in semen or vaginal secretions. However, different types of coronavirus have been found in different ranges of bodily fluid.1 It’s possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) could be found in other secretions, but the risk from being exposed to respiratory secretions is most urgent and clear.
Sex With an Existing Partner You Live With
The risk of sex in the time of coronavirus depends a lot on who you are having sex with. If you are currently living with someone, and sharing a bed with them, it doesn’t much matter if you’re having sex. If one of you has COVID-19, the other will probably be exposed to it. In China, transmission within households was a major source of new COVID-19 infections.2 Sex is unlikely to add any additional risk. Therefore, if you two want to have sex, fears of coronavirus are not a good reason not to go for it.
(This is assuming you are both asymptomatic. If one of you has symptoms, or tests positive, you should follow quarantine guidelines to reduce your risk as much as possible.)
Sex With an Existing Partner You Don’t Live With
If you have an existing partner whom you don’t live with, you start having to think about risk and social distancing. If you each live alone, are working from home, are avoiding social situations, and are only dating each other, the calculation will be very different than if you each have a bunch of roommates, or if one of you works in a crowded environment. In the first case, if you decide to have sex, you’re mostly just risking each other. If one of you is infected with COVID-19 and the other one becomes infected, you’re not likely to expose many other people. Assuming neither of you has symptoms, you can each figure out your own tolerance for risk based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Some communities, including Seattle, have separate guidelines.3
It’s different if one or both of you is interacting with a number of different people in close quarters. At that point, you need to start considering the fact that you are each taking on additional risk for everyone you are closely involved with. The amount of risk will vary depending on how common COVID-19 is in your community.
Until there is widespread testing, there is no way to be entirely certain where the virus is and where it isn’t. In an area implementing strong social distancing precautions (closing most or all public spaces, recommending staying at least 6 feet from others at all times), getting together for sex, or even a snuggle date, doesn’t really fit the social distancing model. If you choose to do so anyway, you should be aware of how that choice can affect not just you but the most vulnerable people in your life.
It may be a good idea to consider phone or video dates and sex as an acceptable alternative to in-person hookups. Those are safe for everything, except possibly your phone bill.
Meeting New People
Pandemics are a great time to explore online dating—not just meeting, but actually dating online. Many communities have already closed down bars, restaurants, and other gathering places. More will soon be doing so. Going out and meeting new people every night isn’t a great idea in a society that is trying to limit the transmission of a very contagious virus. Instead, try hanging out on a video chat or sending long e-mails. Watch Netflix together from your own couches. Engage in sexy texting and look forward to when it is a reasonable choice to meet up and play in person.
If you decide that getting together is reasonable given the current status of the virus in your community, agree in advance to cancel if either of you has symptoms or a fever. Plan to cancel ahead of time if one of you has a known exposure to someone infected with or suspected of having COVID-19. Follow the CDC’s hygiene guidelines for reducing infection risk as well as any specific guidelines for your community.
It’s normal for the current COVID-19 pandemic to make you feel lonely while social distancing. Being proactive about your mental health can help you keep both your mind and body stronger. Learn about the best online therapy options available to you.
A Word From Verywell
Social distancing is going to be hard for everyone. The ways in which it will be difficult will be different depending on who you are, how you live, and how you love. In this time, it’s critical to do what you can to maintain your emotional health as well as your physical health. For some people that means doing something good for their community. Others need to focus on distractions such as gaming or reading. Still others need to find ways to get their bodies moving—in isolation or at home. Many need some form of touch. That’s not a failure. It’s just something to figure out how to accomplish as safely as possible. Keep informed. Think about risks. Then do what you can to manage those risks without losing your mind.