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You Should Have Sex "Wearing a Mask" to Prevent COVID-19, Study Says

New research suggests if you are intimate outside the home, you must take precautions.
Young romantic loving couple wearing a protective face mask and staring at each other's eyes, pandemic and feelings concept

You already know you must stay six feet away from others to prevent the spread of the coronavirus—and to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of droplets. So as ludicrous as it sounds, it may not be entirely surprising that according to a new study from Harvard, the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, if you absolutely, positively must have sex with someone outside your home, is to wear a face mask. The authors recommend "minimizing the number of sexual partners, avoiding sex partners with symptoms consistent with SARS-CoV-2, avoiding kissing and sexual behaviors with a risk for fecal-oral transmission or that involve semen or urine, wearing a mask, showering before and after sexual intercourse, and cleaning of the physical space with soap or alcohol wipes."

How to Stay Your Safest

Among the safest ways to prevent the spread of infection, according to the study's authors, are:

  • "Abstinence is the lowest-risk approach to sexual health during the pandemic. 
  • Masturbation is an additional safe recommendation for patients to meet their sexual needs without the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • Video Chats. Patients can be counseled to engage in sexual activity with partners via the telephone or video chat services. Given privacy concerns, they should be counseled to use secure encrypted platforms."

Dr Jack Turban, the study's lead researcher, admitted: "For some patients, complete abstinence from in-person sexual activity is not an achievable goal. In these situations, having sex with persons with whom they are self-quarantining is the safest approach."

What Our Doctor Says

There's a good chance you'll want to have actual sex, and if you don't live with a partner, you may stray outside the home. We asked Dr. Deborah Lee, a medical writer at Dr Fox Online Pharmacy and a reproductive and sexual health expert, about what you can do to have safe sex during the pandemic. "This a tricky one—not much!" she admits. She agrees with the findings of the study—see the beginning of this story to review their recommendations—and also wanted to impart the following advice:

  • "Wash your hands and use alcohol gel before you meet another person, and then again before you re-enter your own household—that's always important.
  • COVID-19 has been found in semen even after the infection has resolved, However, this does not mean it is capable of sexual transmission, as there is no evidence the virus can reproduce in the genital tract. So, don't get confused about this.
  • There is also no suggestion that spermicides are effective against COVID-19.
  • The virus can survive on plastic surfaces – which would include, for example, non-latex (polyurethane) condoms, for 2-3 days.
  • Sheets should be laundered at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for half an hour to kill the virus. Most economy washes are only 86 degrees.
  • Just as with the transmission of STI's, the risk of passing on or acquiring infection is associated with having multiple partners, frequent change of partners, and overlapping partners. If there was ever a time for monogamy—it's now! It's a horrible double whammy to give someone not just chlamydia but COVID-19 as well!"

And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more
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