Can We Have Sex? Here’s When You Can (And Can’t) Do It In The Coronavirus Outbreak

Netflix and... ill? The advice you need to know, whether you're self-isolating or social distancing.

Update: Since this article was published, UK lockdown has come into place and guidance on self-isolation has changed.

We’re all looking for some indoor entertainment while social distancing, but Netflix has its limits. Netflix and chill, however, never gets old – so can you have sex while coronavirus is sweeping the nation?

Some diseases such as Ebola and Zika can be transmitted via semen, explains Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine and expert in infectious diseases based at the University of East Anglia – but there’s no evidence of this for Covid-19.

“It’s the working up to it [erm, sex] that’s the issue,” he says. “The main risk is going to be from oral, respiratory droplet spread. French kissing is probably not on the cards, so if you come up with a way of having sex without that, it might be a good idea.”

The risk of transmitting or contracting the virus during sex, however, depends on your current health and the nature of your sex life, Prof. Hunter adds.

Are you social distancing or self-isolating? The former simply means limiting contact with the outside world, while the latter is for people who may have come into contact with the virus – and is a little more complicated.

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If you’re social distancing...

If you’re in a monogamous relationship, you’re healthy, and you live with your partner, Prof. Hunter says it can be business as usual in the bedroom.

“If you are just social distancing, as a family or as a couple, you’re basically just trying to avoid the rest of the world as best you can, so personally, I don’t see any reason why that should interfere with your sex life,” Prof. Hunter tells HuffPost UK.

“I confidently expect to see an increase in the birth rate early next year – you can only watch so many re-runs of Crocodile Dundee and Carry On films before you get bored of the telly.”

However, if your sex life usually involves multiple partners or meeting people outside your home, that’s a little more tricky.

“If you have a slightly more bohemian sex life, I think you need to think this through,” says Prof. Hunter. “The risk of you picking up the infection or spreading the infection on, is – to a large extent – related to the closeness of contact you have with people, and how many people you have contact with.”

As a reminder, the government has reminded everyone – regardless of their age and health – to avoid all “non-essential contact” with others, so it’s advisable to keep those Hinge or Grindr chats digital for now.

If you’re self-isolating...

The current recommendations state anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should self-isolate for seven days and anyone living with that person should isolate for 14 days from the start of the illness.

“The reason we say 14 days is for you to have seven days to get over your illness – during which at any one time you could infect your partner – and then giving your partner another seven days,” Prof. Hunter explains.

If you’re ill with symptoms consistent with Covid-19, Prof. Hunter recommends avoiding sex – or any close contact – with your partner and keeping your distance as much as possible within that first seven-day period.

However, new guidance states, “it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already”. Now even if symptomatic, you don’t have to keep your distance from people you live with unless they are particularly vulnerable.

Prof. Hunter adds: “Person-to-person transmission if you’re living in the same house isn’t a forgone conclusion. The attack rate isn’t 100%, and can often be less than 50%.”

So, if you’re a little worried but still determined to get down to it – there are ways to limit the risk of Covid-19 transmission during sex.

“I’m not going to spell it out as I’m sure you can work it out for yourselves,” says Prof. Hunter, “there are some types of sexual activity that are more likely to bring you into contact with other people’s bodily fluids than others.”

I think we can work that one out, don’t you?