Ask Dr Amy: Sex During COVID-19
Have you ever had a question about sex or relationships but were too embarrassed to ask? You know, those questions about certain discharges, weird things that happen in the middle of a sexual encounter, that kind of thing. Luckily, our new Dr Amy segment is here to enlighten us on the questions we are a bit reluctant to put out there.
To start things off we are approaching the most obvious – if we want a good sexual experience during COVID how do we go about it?
In a world where everything is changing, for many of us the desire to be intimate has remained strong. It’s been many months since we heard the word COVID-19 and we’re still practising social distancing and staying home as much as possible. So what does this mean for you and achieving sexual pleasure while staying safe?
SHINE SA’s Dr Amy has answered the most popular questions and provided some expert advice (Amy is a GP and Coordinator: Medical Education at SHINE SA).
Is COVID-19 a STI?
COVID-19 is not a sexually transmissible infection (STI), however it is transmitted through close contact as it’s in the fine droplets and aerosol from our breath, and lands on and around us.
So if your sexual partner has COVID-19 you are likely to get it.
Am I more likely to get COVID-19 from casual sex or a new sexual partner?
If the person you are having sex with has COVID then you are likely to get it as sex involves close contact, even without kissing. This is regardless of whether they are a regular or casual partner. If you or your partner are having sex with multiple partners then you have a higher chance of being exposed to COVID. So it’s best to avoid sex with new or multiple partners to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.
What if I do have sex with a new partner?
While you could get COVID-19 from any close contact with someone who is infected, we know that certain things make it more likely that someone might have it, and therefore pass it on to you.
- any COVID-19 symptoms
- had recent travel (from overseas or a COVID-19 hot spot)
- had recent contact with someone who has COVID-19
- are awaiting their COVID-19 test results
- are in isolation or quarantine.
While not as certain as avoiding physical contact, it is possible that asking a new sexual partner questions about the above, and only having sex if the answers are ‘no’ could reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 through sex. Dating aps and online websites are a great way to discuss these risks before meeting.
Relying on wearing masks during sex to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 is not recommended.
If you are planning to have sex with a new partner you could discuss a “COVID” bubble where you both agree not to have sex with other partners for as long as you are having sex with each other. If you and a sexual partner are both practicing physical distancing from others, you can have sex with one another with a low risk of acquiring COVID-19.
What should I do after having sex?
The next step would be to monitor how you’re feeling and if you do develop any COVID-19 symptoms then you should get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. It’s also important to remember that STI’s still exist during a pandemic. If you’re having sex with a new sexual partner it’s a good idea to get a sexual health check. Also if you’re under the age of 30 it’s best to get an STI test at least every 12 months.
What kind of sex would minimise the risk of getting COVID-19?
All types of physical sex involve close contact and presence of saliva during sex which both pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19.
To minimise the risk of getting COVID-19 during sex, or keep your sex life going strong with a partner in isolation or quarantine you might just have to get a little creative.
Some of the different ways to stay intimate include:
- Sex-ting: Take your texting to another level and add in some dirty talk. Get your inspiration from some erotic blogs or movies. Remember only write what you’re comfortable with but remember there is no guarantee of privacy when you send pictures.
- Self-pleasure: Why not try a new sex toy? An activity done alone or with your partner from 1.5 metres apart.
- Screen time: FaceTime, Skype, Zoom? There are many different platforms to get your sexy time on from different locations. Remember to have mutual digital consent.
- Phone sex: The sound of someone’s voice and moans can be extremely arousing. A steamy phone call exploring your fantasies can be more exciting than the act itself. Before engaging in phone sex always ask for consent and ensure all people are comfortable with the content.
I’m in a relationship, do the rules still apply?
Having sex with anyone who has been exposed to COVID is a risk for getting the infection yourself.
If you are living with a sexual partner then the sex is unlikely to further increase the risk of getting COVID-19, any more than other close household contact. In fact once one household member is infected, it is likely others in the household will become infected too.
Take the time to check in with your sexual partner/s, have you been practising social distancing outside of the home, are you washing your hands regularly, do you think you have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19? Taking these extra precautions makes it more likely to be safe to engage in intimacy.
If we go into lock down, can I still visit my regular sexual partner?
Yes even in stage four restriction visiting an intimate partner has been considered “providing care”.
How do I get an STI check during COVID-19?
You can get an STI test by making an appointment with your local doctor, sexual health clinic, Aboriginal Health Service or at SHINE SA. If you are self-isolating or have a health condition which makes you vulnerable to COVID you may be able to organise a phone or telehealth consult and arrange a pick up or delivery of kit to self-collect an STI test. If you have any symptoms or are concerned you have been exposed to and STI you shouldn’t delay getting a sexual health check because of COVID.
– Dr Amy, SHINE SA
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