Can I have sex during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Can I have sex during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Published: 12 June 2020

When you can’t have something you often want it more, especially when you’re at home with a lot of time on your hands and no one to physically interact with.

Unfortunately, sex breaks every rule of physical distancing, BUT it’s not impossible to engage in sexual intimacy whilst maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres between you and your partner, it just changes the way you have sex.


Can I pass on the COVID-19 virus while having sex?

The COVID-19 virus is NOT a sexually transmitted infection but can be passed through saliva. Given the closeness of your bodies and the likelihood that kissing will be involved, transmission during sex with someone who has COVID-19 is absolutely possible.


What is the safest option for sex during COVID-19?

Your safest sex partner right now is you. Enjoy masturbation but consider basic hygiene rules like washing hands and sex toys and disinfecting your phone or keyboard if using pornography.


How can I be intimate while maintaining physical distancing?

Physical distancing is definitely a game changer when it comes to sexual intimacy, but mutual masturbation, remote control sex toys, and sexting (sending sexy texts and/or sexy pics/nudes) represent ways to maintain sexual closeness in a safe way.

Things to remember when sexting:

  • During sexting make sure that you have consent of the other party before sending nudes. Just like physical sex, consent can’t be forced or given when under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • It’s a smart idea not to show your face or any identifying features in case images are leaked. Have a password on your phone and laptop and make sure your photos are not linked to a shared drive.
  • If someone has or is threatening to release images of you without your consent you can report this to the eSafety Commissioner.

Remember, it’s not okay for you to share photos of another person, even if they were given to you consensually.


I live with my sexual partner; can I have sex with them?

As long as you’re both healthy, sex is a great way to maintain intimacy, reduce stress and anxiety, and pass the time!


I don’t live with my partner; can we still meet up?

As it stands in NSW, you can still visit your partner unless you have been advised to physically isolate. If you are travelling to their place, take measures to protect yourself on your way to and from their place. But don’t visit if either of you are feeling unwell.


I’ve found a cutie on Tinder/Grindr? Can we meet up?

Restrictions on visiting others in their home are now easing but it is still not a good time to be engaging in casual sex. While you can visit people in their home, you still need to maintain a distance of 1.5m which may be tempting to break when things are heating up between you and a potential partner.

If you do want to have sex with someone else it should only be with your partner or someone you live with. It still does carry risks, but condoms and dental dams may help limit transmission through saliva during oral sex. The virus has also been found in fecal matter, so it is best to avoid analingus (rimming) as it could transmit the virus.


STIs are still an issue during COVID-19

Don’t forget about the usual precautions to protect against STIs and unintended pregnancies. Condoms are the only contraception (when used correctly) that reliably do both. The pill protects against pregnancy but doesn't stop the transmission of STIs. So make sure you add condoms to your essential shopping list! You can add them to your online shopping order if you're in physical isolation or pick them up at your local supermarket or pharmacy. 


Don't like sex with a condom? Try adding lube

There are lots of reasons people say they don't like condoms but the main one is that sex doesn't feel as good when using one. Our answer? It feels better than an STI! Get creative. There are loads of different flavoured condoms, different sizes, textures and colours, but the secret sauce is water-based lube.


Do I need an STI check?

Have you had sex without a condom, changed your sexual partner recently or are sexually active but haven't had an STI test for a year? Then the answer is yes. 

Most STIs don't have symptoms, so don't use absence of symptoms as an excuse, it's not worth putting off a health check at the moment, because delaying seeing a doctor can have significantly worse side effects than even COVID-19. Learn more about STI testing here.


For more information about sex and sexual health during COVID-19, check out the playsafe blog. Still got questions? Ask Nurse Nettie, playsafe's sexual health nurse.

You can also visit our sexual health hub.