PPE in the Bedroom: Is it Safe to Have Sex in a Pandemic?



Both the CDC and NYC Health Department discourage sexual activity with people outside your “social bubble” during the pandemic. Asking your partner if they’ve had COVID symptoms is also recommended.


Many things were postponed due to COVID-19, but it’s likely that your sex drive has persisted through this pandemic better than sporting events or indoor dining. The question is, however, is it safe to act on it during a pandemic?

Both Planned Parenthood and the New York City Department of Health (NYC Health) advise against having sex with people you do not already live with. 

It’s unclear as to how well COVID-19 spreads through sexual contact. The virus that causes COVID-19 has been detected in feces and semen, which may pose additional risk for sexual partners. Nevertheless, COVID-19 can readily spread through kissing or close contact with a sexual partner.

“You are your safest sex partner,” said NYC Health. That’s right, there are no recorded cases of masturbation furthering the spread of COVID-19. If going solo hasn’t been cutting it lately, NYC Health identified those that live within your quarantine bubble as the next safest prospective sexual partner.

The number of people you choose to see outside of your household should remain limited, and this small circle includes individuals you have sex with who don’t live you. Before engaging in sexual activity with members outside of your household, make sure you will be able to have an honest conversation with this person about their COVID-19 status. 

NYC Health recommends asking the following questions. First, ask the person you might have sex with: “Do you have symptoms or have had symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?” Even though it’s possible to spread COVID-19 while not showing symptoms, it’s still important to ask them whether they’ve experienced shortness of breath, fever, cough or sore throat recently.

The second question to ask would be: “Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 using a nasal swab or saliva test?” Even if they have tested positive, it’s unlikely that they will be able to spread the coronavirus 10 days after the onset of symptoms and at least three days after their last fever. If they, however, are still within this window of time, plan to meet in person later in the future.

An important thing to note is that an individual might not be immune after this 10-day-window. Rather, they are merely unable to further spread the virus.

You or your partner may have gotten an antibodies test, and it’s important to know what these results really mean. An antibodies test can determine whether you have had a past infection of COVID-19; these tests, however, do not ensure that you have immunity against the virus and cannot become reinfected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s possible to acquire immunity against COVID-19 following an infection, but it’s unclear as to how long and how strong this immunity is.

According to NYC Health, “If two is company then three (or more) is definitely a crowd.” Group sex is also not advisable during a pandemic, especially if the other participants aren’t members of your household. More partners might be more fun, but it comes with a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. 

There are alternatives to meeting up in person. Seize the moment to get creative with sex. Have a sexy Zoom chat, FaceTime or revive the lost art of sexting. Whatever happened to mutual masturbation? Any type of sexual activity that minimizes contact between you and your partner will always be the safest option, given the circumstances. Lastly, but most importantly, always ensure that there’s enthusiastic consent between both parties.

If these options don’t float your boat, then take special precautions during sex. NYC Health recommends using a condom or dental dams during oral, vaginal or anal intercourse. Avoid kissing at all costs — contact with another person’s saliva is the surest way to catch COVID-19. Wash your hands before and after sex with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Lastly, sex is hard work and heavy breathing is bound to happen, so masks are recommended. 

Even though COVID-19 is the only communicable disease on your mind these days, it’s still possible to contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you choose to hook up during the pandemic, make sure to get a COVID-19 nasal swab test as well as a comprehensive STD screening. 

Again, sex with people outside your household during a pandemic is not recommended by the Planned Parenthood or NYC Health, but the key is to be as safe as possible in every encounter with individuals outside of your household.