Sexual health during the pandemic

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One of our best tools for stopping the spread of COVID-19 is keeping a physical distance from others. As transmission of the virus continues, Coloradans may be encouraged to avoid or limit contact with others for quite some time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you also have to avoid physical intimacy or sexual pleasure. So, how do you have safer sex during a pandemic? 
You can get COVID-19 if you have close physical contact with someone who is infected, but there are precautions you can take to reduce your risk. Here are some tips from NYC Health on how to enjoy sex while avoiding spreading COVID-19.

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Know how COVID-19 spreads 
  • You can get COVID-19 from a person who has it, even if that person doesn’t appear sick and isn’t showing symptoms.

    • The virus can spread to people within about 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 when that person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

    • The virus can spread through direct contact with their saliva or mucus. 

 

  • We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex. 

    • COVID-19 is present in the feces of people who are infected with the virus. 

    • It is unknown whether other non-respiratory body fluids from an infected person, including semen or vaginal fluid, can contain the virus that causes COVID-19. 

    • We know that other coronaviruses do not efficiently transmit through sex.

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Reduce your risk
  • The safest person to have sex with is yourself. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19.

  • The next safest partner is a consenting adult with whom you live. Having sex with only a small circle of consenting adults helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • You should avoid sex with anyone outside your household. If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible. 

  • If you usually meet your sex partners online, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting, or chat rooms may be safer options for you. Masturbation and virtual sex are, by far, the safest options.

 

Take care during sex
  • Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your small circle of close contacts.

  • Both internal and external condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with feces. 

  • Condoms and dental dams can also prevent HIV and STIs.

  • Wash hands and face often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex. 

  • Wash sex toys with soap and warm water to avoid transmission and infection. Disinfect any surfaces where you have sex. 

 

Skip sex if you or your partner are not feeling well. 
  • If you or a partner may have COVID-19, avoid sex and kissing. 

  • If you start to feel unwell, you may be about to develop symptoms of COVID-19.

  • If you or your partner are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, you may also want to skip sex. 

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Self-isolation and physical distancing are ways you can help keep yourself, your partners, and your community safe during this pandemic. Caring for your mental health and decreasing stress is also vital. It can be hard, but try to remember that it won’t last forever. The more people who practice physical distancing now, the more lives will be saved, and the sooner everyone can get back to normal.

For some, isolation at home may lead to or increase relationship abuse, sexual violence, or reproductive coercion (when a partner pressures you to have sex or interferes with your birth control to cause a pregnancy). Any form of relationship or sexual abuse is not OK.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, help is available. The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers virtual support online and over the phone. Violence Free Colorado and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault are local resources to those seeing help.