Health Department Outlines Best Sex Practices in Coronavirus Era

The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, led by Dr. Oxiris Barbot, has offered New Yorkers guidance regarding best practices for sex during the coronavirus era.
Donna Aceto

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has unveiled a “Sex and Coronavirus” guide aimed at helping individuals navigate a healthy sex life while reducing the spread of coronavirus.

The guide clarifies that COVID-19 has not yet been detected in semen or vaginal fluid, but it has been detected in feces of infected individuals. The virus can spread through direct contact with saliva or mucus — an important difference compared to HIV, which is transmitted through blood, semen, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk.

“You are your safest sex partner,” New York City officials remind residents

While the department also confronts the reality that individuals will have sex during the coronavirus crisis, New Yorkers are also reminded that “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 guide states.

For those who are having sex during the pandemic, the department stresses that individuals should aim to limit their sexual contact to those who are close to them.

“Having close contact — including sex — with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19,” the guide explains. “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.”

The guide also offers some tips for sex workers, many of whom have experienced a difficult time making ends meet during the crisis because their clients have stopped calling them.

“If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates,” the department suggests. “Video dates, sexting, or chat rooms may be options for you.”

The department also said that during sex, it is important to avoid rimming or kissing anyone who is not close to you. Those who do have sex should be sure to utilize condoms and dental dams to prevent contact with bodily fluids.

Once finished, wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and wash sex toys thoroughly with soap and water. Keyboards used in online encounters should also be disinfected if shared with others.

Of course, if you or your partner is not feeling well, sex should be skipped altogether, especially if one of you has a medical condition that can lead to a more severe case of COVID-19.

While this is not necessarily coronavirus-specific, the department also reminds individuals that PrEP is an option for individuals to prevent HIV.

For further information, the department invites New Yorkers to visit nyc.gov/coronavirus or cdc/gov/covid19.

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