- By Dana Sparks
Can you get COVID-19 from sexual activity?
All close contact (within 6 feet or 2 meters) with an infected person can expose you to the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — whether you're engaged in sexual activity or not.
The virus spreads by respiratory droplets released when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can be inhaled or land in the mouth or nose of a person nearby. Coming into contact with a person's spit through kissing or other sexual activities could expose you to the virus. People who have COVID-19 could also spread respiratory droplets onto their skin and personal belongings. A sexual partner could get the virus by touching these surfaces and then touching his or her mouth, nose or eyes. In addition, the COVID-19 virus can spread through contact with feces. It's possible that you could get the COVID-19 virus from sexual activities that expose you to fecal matter.
There is currently no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids, but the virus has been detected in the semen of people who have or are recovering from the virus. Further research is needed to determine if the COVID-19 virus could be transmitted sexually.
Since some people who have COVID-19 show no symptoms, it's important to keep distance between yourself and others if the COVID-19 virus is spreading in your community. This includes avoiding sexual contact with anybody who doesn't live with you. If you or your partner isn't feeling well or think you might have COVID-19, don't kiss or have sex with each other until you're both feeling better. Also, if you or your partner is at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19 due to an existing chronic condition, you might want to avoid sex.
The safest type of sexual activity during the COVID-19 pandemic is masturbation. Be sure to wash your hands and any sex toys used, both before and after masturbating. You might also consider engaging in sexual activity with partners via text, photos or videos, ideally using an encrypted platform to provide privacy protection.
Beyond sex, there are other ways to create or maintain intimacy with a partner at a distance. Go on virtual dates together, share music you enjoy, write letters to one another or dress up for each other. Be creative.
If you are sexually active with someone outside of your household, consider these precautions to reduce your risk of getting the COVID-19 virus:
- Minimize the number of sexual partners you have.
- Avoid sex partners who have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Avoid kissing.
- Avoid sexual behaviors that have a risk of fecal-oral transmission or that involve semen or urine.
- Use condoms and dental dams during oral and anal sex.
- Wear a mask during sexual activity.
- Wash your hands and shower before and after sexual activity.
- Wash sex toys before and after using them.
- Use soap or alcohol wipes to clean the area where you have sexual activity.
Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding along with guidelines and recommendations may have changed since the original publication date.
Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for additional updates on COVID-19. For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.