Couples should have sex ‘wearing a mask’ to reduce risk of transmitting coronavirus, study suggests

Harvard University study states that the safest way to have sex in lockdown is to abstain entirely

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 03 June 2020 09:39 BST
Face coverings could reduce the spread of Covid-19

Couples should have sex while wearing face masks to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19 to one another, a new study suggests.

On 8 May, researchers at Harvard University published a study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine on the safest ways to have sex during the coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday, new laws were implemented in England that made it illegal for couples who live in different homes to have sex indoors and stay overnight.

Guidance in place in the rest of the UK also prevents people from having sex with anyone outside of their household.

Despite it being against guidelines to socialise with different households in many US states, the Harvard scientists have ranked different sexual scenarios on the basis of how likely it is that you would catch coronavirus while doing them.

At the top end, and therefore identified as the lowest risk, is abstinence. “Low risk for infection, though not feasible for many,” the researchers say.

Next is masturbation, which the study states is “low risk” and then in third place is sexual activity on digital platforms.

“Patients should be counselled on the risks for screenshots of conversations or videos and sexual extortion,” the researchers say, adding that minors should be counselled about the risks of online sexual predation, which the study notes has increased since the pandemic began.

Following on after that is having sex with people within your household. This, the study notes, comes with a high risk of infection given that one or both partners might have caught the virus from outside of the home.

In the last place, and deemed the highest risk, is having sex with people outside of our household.

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In such instances, the study states that patients should be counseled about risk reduction techniques, such as: “minimising the number of sexual partners, avoiding sex partners with symptoms consistent with SARS-CoV-2, avoiding kissing and sexual behaviours with a risk for fecal-oral transmission or that involve semen or urine, wearing a mask, showering before and after sexual intercourse, and cleaning of the physical space with soap or alcohol wipes.”

Dr Jack Turban, the study’s lead researcher, said: “For some patients, complete abstinence from in-person sexual activity is not an achievable goal. In these situations, having sex with persons with whom they are self-quarantining is the safest approach.”

According to the NHS, the main symptoms of Covid-19 are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

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