Sex and coronavirus: How to have it safely

You’ve heard of the “new normal” around things like going back to work or shopping.

But it also applies to sex, according to a sexual health charity.

The Terrence Higgins Trust has published advice suggesting people avoid kissing, wear a face covering and choose positions that aren’t face-to-face during sex.

It may sound tough, but people need to find a way “to balance our need for sex and intimacy with the risks of the spread of COVID-19”, the Trust says.

Staying safe

The best sexual partner during the pandemic is yourself or someone you live with, the Trust says.

Masturbation, using sex toys or participating in phone or online sex are recommended as the safest options.

That’s not to say sex is off the table, but it should ideally be with people who are part of your household.

We should still be socially distancing, but after months of lockdown the charity says it is unrealistic to expect people to stop having sex indefinitely. If you are having sex with people outside of your household, it’s important to limit the number of partners, it says.

Like with everything at the moment, be aware of any Covid-19 symptoms you or your partner might have – and isolate if you have them.

If you are meeting someone new, the charity says to ask if they or anyone in their household have had symptoms or tested positive.

Does the virus spread through sex?

The virus can spread through saliva, mucus or the breath of those who have it, along with contact with hard surfaces.

“If you are going to touch each other’s genitals it’s likely that you will potentially be kissing at the same time – and we know the virus is passed through saliva,” Dr Alex George told Radio 1 Newsbeat in March.

Dr Alex is an A&E doctor and former Love Island contestant and says “any possibility of transfer of coronavirus – from your mouth to your hands, to genitals, to someone else’s nose or mouth” increases the risk of passing on coronavirus.

Coronavirus: What you need to know graphic featuring three key points: wash your hands for 20 seconds; use a tissue for coughs; avoid touching your face

That’s why the Trust recommends not kissing, wearing a face mask during sex and favouring positions where you’re not face-to-face.

It adds the virus has been found in semen and poo, which is why you should use condoms and dams for oral sex to minimise risk.

And given we’re supposed to be doing it after most things – washing your hands for more than 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser before and after sex is recommended.

All of this is not to say you should forget about your sexual health in general.

The charity says it’s important to get tested for sexually transmitted infections before starting to have sex again.

“Lockdown has meant that most people have had fewer sexual partners, if any at all, and now is the perfect time to be sure you don’t have an STI and to know what your HIV status is,” it says.