Right now, the spread of COVID-19 is affecting our lives, and that includes our relationships with our partners. Showing physical affection and closeness can play a big part in relationships, but physical distancing is important to slow the spread of COVID-19. If you’re unsure about whether sex is safe, it helps to understand how COVID-19 spreads.
COVID-19 spreads through direct contact with a person’s saliva, mucus or feces.You can get it by coming into close contact with someone who is sick. It can spread when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes or through kissing. It can also be spread by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your face, mouth, eyes or nose. Even someone who shows no symptoms could be carrying COVID-19 and can spread it.
Since COVID-19 can spread very easily, it can affect how you date and show your affection to your partner.
For the most up to date information on sexual health and COVID-19, see the BC CDC Sex and COVID-19 page.
Can you get COVID-19 from sex?
COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted disease, but you can get COVID-19 if you get into close physical contact with someone who is sick. This is why physical distancing during this time is very important. COVID-19 is spread through saliva or mucus, so coming into contact with spit – like kissing – can spread COVID-19. COVID-19 has also spread through feces (poop). If you are having anal sex, it is also a way that COVID-19 can spread.
Can I have sex safely during COVID-19?
If you’re feeling fine and have no symptoms of COVID-19, you can still have sex. If you’re feeling sick, skip sex.
You are your safest sex partner. Masturbating by yourself (solo sex) will not spread COVID-19.
The next safest sexual partners are those who already live with you. But if one of you is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, then you should be physically distancing and self-isolate, even if you live in the same house.
At the moment it is recommended to limit sexual partners outside of your current social bubble. Limit sexual activity to as few people as possible and avoid having partners outside of people you have been seeing regularly.
During sex, use barriers like condoms and dental dams to prevent contact with spit and poop that might be carrying COVID-19. It’s also important to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after you have sex.
For more information on sexual wellness, visit our page on the topic here. Remember to always ask for consent before having sex, even if you’ve had sex before, you’re in a relationship, live together or are married. If your partner doesn’t want to have sex for any reason – including being worried about COVID-19 – it’s important to respect their decision.
Can I start dating someone new?
Right now it may not the best time to meet new people in person. Someone who shows no symptoms could be carrying COVID-19 and can spread it. Instead of meeting up in person, you can have video dates, phone calls, or connecting over social media with someone you are interested in.
I’ve kissed someone and now they’ve started developing symptoms of COVID-19. What should I do?
If you’ve kissed or been in contact with someone who you think has gone on to develop COVID-19, make sure you self-isolate.
Keep track of how you are feeling. If you are developing symptoms, then be extra careful. Go online to the BC Self-Assessment Tool to help you figure out if you need further testing. You can also call 8-1-1 anytime to talk to a nurse at HealthLinkBC and get advice about how you are feeling and what to do next.
Where can I find help with sexual health stuff?
Options for Sexual Health helps provide sexual health services all over B.C. and are continuing to provide services during COVID-19. A list of their clinics across B.C. can be found here. Options is now providing sexual health visits through telemedicine for those in communities impacted by COVID-19 closures and who are without access to sexual health services.
Sex Sense is a free, pro-choice, sex-positive, and confidential service available across B.C. You can connect with registered nurses, counsellors, and sex educators for information and resources and sex sexuality and sexual health. They are available Monday to Friday from 9AM – 9PM through phone and email.
Phone: 1-800-739-7367 (BC-wide) or 604-731-7803 (Lower Mainland)
You contact SexSense through their email form here.
Last updated: July 30, 2020
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