Coronavirus has affected many areas of everyday life and sex is no exception.
A UK sexual health charity recently issued advice on avoiding coronavirus transmission during sex, with guidelines including wearing a facemask and opting for positions where you’re not face-to-face.
Dr Michael Brady, medical director at the Terrence Higgins Trust, says that the advice is intended to, “balance our need for sex and intimacy with the risks of the spread of Covid-19”.
Research by the charity revealed that 84 % of Brits surveyed hadn't had sex with someone outside their immediate household since lockdown began. But with restrictions in the UK and around the world beginning to lift, they recognise that asking people to refrain from sex entirely is no longer realistic.
According to the World Health Organisation, coronavirus can spread through mucus, breath or saliva, either directly or if picked up by others through contact with hard surfaces. The trust recommends that rather than having direct contact, partners should get creative and make use of technology to connect sexually.
“Masturbation, using sex toys and phone or cam sex are the safest options as they can be done without being in close proximity to anyone else,” they advise. “Just make sure that if you’re having cam sex you don’t share images that might identify you, unless you want to, and that you aren’t pressured into anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.”
If you are having sexual contact with someone outside your
household, the charity recommends that
you limit yourself to one partner – and take other precautions to reduce the
risk of Covid-19.
When meeting someone new, you should ask if they, or anyone in their household, has had symptoms or tested positive for the virus.
To limit the spread, they suggest not kissing, wearing a face mask during sex and favouring positions where you’re not face-to-face.
Washing your hands for more than 20 seconds, or using hand sanitiser, before and after sex will also reduce the risk.
The charity also recommends not having sex if you feel unwell and isolating if you have symptoms.
Although Dr Jireh Serfontein, a sexual health expert with local organisation My Sexual Health, agrees with these guidelines she cautions that South Africans should abide by local lockdown rules which currently discourage socialising with anyone outside of your household.
“In the event that your partner – who lives with you – has
tested positive for coronavirus, sex is probably going to be the last thing on
their mind. But even so, it would be best to avoid any physical contact with
them,” she says, adding that this should be done even if they haven’t been
tested but are experiencing symptoms.
She also suggests waiting at least 10 days after the positive diagnosis before you and your partner are intimate again.
“At the moment it is more important than ever to avoid any risky sexual behaviour,” she emphasises.
“What we know today about coronavirus and the way it is transmitted has changed totally from what we knew in March. In March we said the only way you could get coronavirus when intimate is during kissing because we believed that the virus only stayed active and present in saliva ad respiratory fluids.
“But latest research has shown that the virus is also
present in semen and although researchers are still not sure if it can be
transmitted sexually, it would be best to err on the side of caution.”
She adds that although South Africans are generally more conservative than overseas counterparts when it comes to sex toys, “they’re a great way to spice things up while we wait out the pandemic”.
“If you’ve always felt like you wanted to experiment with sex toys but felt too shy, now is a good time to do it.”
Sources: tht.org.uk, standard.co.uk, www.who.int, mysexualhealth.co.za