September 8, 2020 -- Canada’s chief public health officer has issued safe sex guidelines for the coronavirus pandemic, including recommending you wear a face mask during sexual encounters with someone outside your quarantine group.

“Sex can be complicated in the time of COVID-19, especially for those without an intimate partner in their household or whose sexual partner is at higher risk for COVID-19,” Dr. Theresa Tam wrote. “Like other activities during COVID-19 that involve physical closeness, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk of getting infected and spreading the virus.”

The sexual activity with the lowest risk, she said, “involves yourself alone.”

But if you “choose to engage in an in-person sexual encounter with someone outside of your household or close contacts bubble,” skip the kissing and face-to-face contact and “consider wearing a mask that covers the nose and mouth,” she said.

Also, make sure to use a condom, monitor yourself and your partner for coronavirus symptoms, and limit alcohol use so you can make good decisions, she wrote.

There’s a low likelihood of catching coronavirus through semen or vaginal fluids, she wrote, but “sexual activity with new partners does increase your risk of getting or passing COVID-19 through close contact, like kissing. Remember as with all social interactions, try to keep your number of close contacts low if possible.”

Tam is not the first medical authority make these recommendations.

In a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Harvard researchers said people should wear masks and avoid kissing if they get together with somebody they’re not quarantining with.

They said that every form of “in-person sexual contact” carries a risk because the virus is “readily transmitted by aerosols.”

The researchers ranked sexual behaviors in ascending risk: Abstinence, masturbation, sex using digital platforms, sex with someone you’re quarantined with, and sex with somebody you’re not quarantined with.

The Mayo Clinic also said people should wear masks and avoid kissing when they have sex with someone from outside their household. It’s also a good idea to wash sex toys, wear condoms, and minimize your number of sex partners.

“There is currently no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids, but the virus has been detected in the semen of people who have or are recovering from the virus,” the Mayo Clinic noted. “Further research is needed to determine if the COVID-19 virus could be transmitted sexually.”

Show Sources

Government of Canada: "Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on September 2, 2020."

Annals of Internal Medicine: "Sexual Health in the SARS-CoV-2 Era"

Mayo Clinic: "Sex and coronavirus: Can you get COVID-19 from sexual activity?"

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