If social distancing ever had any novelty, surely it's worn off by now. We've done the online birthday parties and book clubs. We've even done the virtual quarantine dates. In fact, maybe we've been chatting with someone we actually like. Which naturally makes us wonder: Can we safely have sex during this pandemic without putting ourselves at risk of coronavirus?
No research has been done looking at whether the specific viral strain that causes COVID-19 can be effectively transmitted through sex, the NYC Department of Health reports. COVID-19 hasn't yet been found in semen or vaginal secretions. It has been found in feces of infected people, though, so it's possible that anal sex could put you at slightly higher risk.
But officials are recommending social distancing for a reason. COVID-19 is transmitted via respiratory droplets — the watery spray that's released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making out with or cuddling up with someone who's sick, then, would certainly put you at risk of picking up the disease. And there's typically at least some degree of kissing, touching, and closeness involved when you have sex with someone.
If you've spent the past couple of weeks quarantining with a sexual partner, you've likely been around them enough that having sex with them won't pose any additional risk. But right now, it's not advised to invite someone new over — whether you want to just hang out or you're hoping to get busy.
"Now is not the time to be online dating with strangers," Jennifer Berman, MD, a urologist and women's sexual health expert at The Berman Women’s Wellness Center in Beverly Hills tells Refinery29. "Face-to-face contact, such as touching, kissing, and all of those things puts you at risk. So clearly if it's a person that you don't know or if you haven't confirmed that they've been quarantined with no symptoms and no fever for at least two weeks, you're being put at risk."
Perhaps controversially, though, Dr. Berman says if you're in a committed relationship with someone you don't live with, it may be okay to schedule a booty call. "You have to be safe, be honest, and be self aware about following the [CDC] guidelines of social distancing," she explains. "You have to be smart about it and not take risks."
You can think of it kind of like STD status: After you've been with someone a while, you might have the "can we stop using condoms" conversation. At that point, you're trusting that they have been tested and are not having unprotected sex with other partners that you don't know about. Similarly, Dr. Berman says if you're confident your partner has no symptoms and has had no risk of exposure in the past two weeks at least, and if you're not putting anyone else at risk (like your own roommates), it may be okay to schedule a visit.
Our two cents: No matter what, by inviting someone over right now, you're taking on a pretty significant danger — to your own health as well as your community's. That's why the CDC is telling people to avoid close contact with people who aren't in their household. The NYC Health Department has specifically advised against getting busy with someone outside your household.
If you're not locked up with someone you want to get sexy with, we know it stinks. But it's temporary — and you're better off safe than sorry. May we suggest ordering a vibrator instead?
The World Health Organisation says you can protect yourself by washing your hands, covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing (ideally with a tissue), avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and don't get too close to people who are coughing, sneezing or with a fever.