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Covid-19 and sex

If you’re feeling fine and have no symptoms of COVID-19, you can still have sex. If you’re feeling sick, skip sex.
The COVID-19 virus has been found in saliva, respiratory fluids, urine and feces. While the virus, known as SARS-CoV-2, hasn’t been detected in vaginal fluid, it has been detected in semen and more research is needed to determine if the virus can be transmitted sexually. The virus can be spread to people who are within 2 metres (about 6 ft) of a person who is infected when that person coughs or sneezes. It can also be passed by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the face, eyes, nose, or mouth. You are your safest sex partner, and your next safest sex partner(s) is/are the person(s) you live with. 

If you’re feeling fine and have no symptoms of COVID-19, you can still have sex
You can get COVID-19 from coming in close contact, usually within 2 metres or 6 feet, of a person who is sick. It is spread when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes or through kissing. It can also be spread by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your face, mouth, eyes or nose. We know a person can also be infectious before they realize they are sick or have any symptoms.

You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19. The next safest sex partner is someone you live with – having contact with only household members helps prevent the spread of the virus. You should avoid close contact – and sex – with anyone outside of your household.

Wash your hands before and after masturbation or sex,to protect yourself and/or your partner. Wash any shared sex toys before and after sex.

If you’re feeling sick, skip sex
If you or your partner may have COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, skip sex, and especially kissing. If you are sick, you should be self-isolating. That means staying at home, not going outside and not having visitors. If you live with other people, this might involve staying in a separate room and using a separate bathroom if possible. You should not self-isolate in the same home as people at risk for more severe illness (e.g., the elderly, people with weakened immunity, or those with certain medical conditions). 

Take steps to protect yourself during sex 
Prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy by using condoms, other effective forms of birth control, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV.

Reduce the risk of spreading or getting sick from COVID-19 by avoiding kissing or saliva exchange/contact, sexual positions with close face to face contact, and group sex for now. 

If you have multiple sex partners or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting, or chat rooms may be options for you. 

Washing with soap and water before and after sex is more important than ever.

Continue to seek out sexual health services, such as testing for HIV and STIs or contraception

Most sexual clinics are still open but many have reduced their hours or services.  We recommend you use the clinic finder on SmartSexResource or contact your local clinic for updates on service availability before visiting. 

If you have symptoms of an STI, were notified as a contact to someone with an STI, need to get started on HIV Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) or have another reason to be seen urgently, contact your local sexual health clinic or health care provider.  

If you’ve had a high risk exposure to HIV in the past three days and think you might need Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), go to your nearest emergency department or contact one of the following consultation sites.

It is best to wait for regular, non-urgent, check-ups for now and only seek medical care if you think you need it.

Guidance for sex workers

The BC Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health have developed this guidance for sex workers with a harm reduction lens to help reduce the risks associated with in-person contact in order to keep workers and clients as safe as possible from COVID-19 illness. The document includes guidance on:

  • The risks of COVID-19 related to sex work
  • General infection control principles
  • Hygiene practices before and after a date
  • Practicing safer sex work
  • Getting tested for STIs

Download COVID-19: Guidance for sex workers

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