Having safe sex during COVID-19

Sex during a pandemic isn’t the easiest. On our first (and hopefully, last) COVID-19 Valentine’s day, some may want to be intimate with their partners. Intimacy can be tricky when you’re meant to stay six feet apart from anyone outside of your immediate household or, if you live alone, your core bubble.

This means for sex, you are your safest buddy, followed by your partner if you live with them.

While the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) doesn’t recommend having sex with someone outside of your bubble, if you’re planning on doing so it’s advised that you reduce the amount of face-to-face contact you and your partner have while having sex, reduce kissing and wear a face mask. The BCCDC also recommends that if possible, to make use of barriers such as glory holes to reduce contact. Engaging in oral sex is not recommended, although if you are going to have oral sex the use of condoms and dental dams is the safest way to do so.

COVID-19 is transmitted mainly by respiratory water droplets, although traces of the virus have been found in both semen and fecal matter. Whether or not it is transmitted by these substances is still unknown. This means that the primary concern when engaging in sexual activity is reducing exposure to salvia, so kissing.

“COVID-19 is not a typical sexually transmitted infection. In fact, it literally flips sexually transmitted infection work upside down, because we usually think about STIs as something that you worry about from the waist down, and this is a scenario where we’re worried from the neck up,” Dr. Demetre Daskalakis said on the CBC podcast The Dose.

Virtual sex is a good way to prevent contact and have a sexual relationship with those outside of your household. This can be through a video call, phone call, sexting or sending sexy pictures back and forth while both you and your partner masturbate. Although, engaging in virtual sex comes with security risks and those who plan to engage in it should make themselves aware of the risks and how to reduce them.

However, virtual sex is not quite the same as in-person sex, and it is not always viable to hook up with those in your core bubble. As Nicole Pasquino, the clinical practice director at Options for Sexual Health told the CBC, “Sex is an important part of all people’s lives and it’s not something that’s just going to stop when there’s a pandemic, nor should it for some people that are able to continue in a low-risk way.”