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"But can I have sex?!?!?!?"

As shelter-in-place orders are extended and cities and states evaluate how to re-open businesses to keep people healthy, some may be wondering if, and how, they can have sex. Although the coronavirus is not an STI, because sex is not a social distancing activity, precautions need to be taken to ensure you do not spread STIs or COVID-19. Here are some tips for how to enjoy sex, stay safe and avoid spreading COVID-19.

Understand how COVID-19 spreads

You CAN get COVID-19 from a person who has it.

  • The virus can spread to people who are within about six feet of a person with COVID-19 when that person coughs or sneezes, as respiratory droplets spread COVID-19.
  • The virus can spread through direct contact with their saliva (or spit) or mucus.

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

  • COVID-19 has been found in the feces (or poop) of people who are infected with the virus.
  • COVID-19 has not yet been found in semen (or cum) or vaginal fluid (or cum).
  • We know that other coronaviruses do not efficiently transmit through sex.

It is important to avoid touching your face — especially your eyes, nose and mouth as germs can spread through these areas

Have sex with people close to you

  • You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.
  • The next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact — including sex — with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19. Have sex only with consenting partners.
  • You should avoid close contact — including 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 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.

Take care during sex

Kissing can easily spread COVID-19. Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your small circle of close contacts.

Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread COVID-19. If the virus is in the feces, it may enter your mouth.

Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva or feces, especially during oral or anal sex.

Washing up before and after sex is more important than ever.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wash sex toys with soap and warm water.
  • Disinfect keyboards and touch screens that you share with others (for video chat, for watching pornography or for anything else).

Skip sex if you or your partner is not feeling well

  • If you or a partner may have COVID-19, avoid sex and especially kissing.
  • If you start to feel unwell, you may be about to develop symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.
  • If you or your partner has a medical condition that can lead to more severe COVID-19, you may also want to skip sex. Medical conditions include lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer or a weakened immune system (for example, having unsuppressed HIV and a low CD4 count).

Prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy

Pregnancy: There are several ways to prevent pregnancy during the pandemic and making sure you have an effective form of birth control for the next several weeks is one of them. If you need birth control, or you need to refill a prescription, you can still do so with Planned Parenthood through telehealth without needing to come to a health center. You can get birth control over the phone or through the app Planned Parenthood Direct.

HIV: Condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and having an undetectable viral load all help prevent HIV.

Other STIs: Condoms and dental dams help prevent other STIs.

For the latest COVID-19 information, please visit the CDC website, your local government website for localized statistics, or Planned Parenthood's website for updates on the virus and health services.