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Practicing Safe Sex during COVID-19

  • Category: Sexual Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Sabeen Shalwani

It's been a long year, and we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective, and now allow us to more safely engage in relationships, sex, and everything in between! As more people get vaccinated, it is important to still play safe and stay cautious.

Check out these tips from the New York City Department of Health to protect yourself and your partner(s) from COVID-19.

How Does COVID-19 Spread Through Sex?

You may be wondering whether COVID-19 spreads through sexual activity. Here’s what to know:

  • Sex can involve close heavy breathing and contact with saliva. It is proven that COVID-19 spreads by infected saliva, mucus, or respiratory particles being inhaled or entering the eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • There is no evidence the virus spreads through semen or vaginal fluid, though the virus has been found in the semen of people who have COVID-19.
  • The risk of spreading the virus through feces (poop) is thought to be low, though the virus has been found in the feces of people who have COVID-19. Research is needed to know if the virus can spread through sexual activities involving oral contact with feces (such as rimming).

Reduce Your Risk of Getting & Spreading COVID-19 During Sex

Why Should I Get Vaccinated?

  • Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and unvaccinated sexual partners from COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and death.
  • If you are fully vaccinated (meaning at least two weeks since you got a single-dose vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose vaccine), you can go on dates, make out and have sex without face coverings and other COVID-19 precautions.
  • While everyone should get vaccinated, it is especially important to do so if you:
    • Are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness.
    • Attend sex parties or get-togethers with large groups; have group sex, multiple sex partners or sex with people you do not know; or engage in sex work.

How Do I Get Vaccinated?

  • Apicha CHC offers free walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations every Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 4pm.
  • Visit or call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692) to find a vaccination site.
  • Vaccinations are free, regardless of your insurance or citizenship status.

If You Have Symptoms

  • Even if you are fully vaccinated, get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms. If you test positive, avoid having sex and close contact with others until your isolation period ends.
  • Apicha CHC also offers free COVID-19 testing, so you can make an appointment or walk-in.

Same sex

If You Are Not Vaccinated and Are Sexually Active

Talk to Your Partner

Ask your partner questions about COVID-19 risk factors before hooking up, such as:

  • Have you been vaccinated?
    • If your partner is fully vaccinated, you are at lower risk.
  • Have you been tested recently for COVID-19?
    • If positive, avoid sex and close contact. If negative, keep in mind a test only shows if a person may have been infected when they were tested.
  • Have you recently had COVID-19?
    • Someone who had COVID-19 (positive diagnostic test) is unlikely to get it again within three months after their infection. This makes them a safer partner.
  • Have you been recently exposed to COVID-19?
    • Unless fully vaccinated, close contact with others should be avoided for 10 days after exposure, even if the person exposed tests negative for COVID-19.
  • Do you take COVID-19 precautions?
    • Being intimate with people who wear a face covering and follow other COVID-19 prevention measures is a safer way to go.

Two men

Ways to Play Safer & Still Have Fun

  • Take a break from sex parties and big gatherings. If you do attend:
    • Take a consistent sex partner with you.
    • Go to more open, larger, ventilated spaces.
    • Always bring and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and wash your hands.
    • Bring your mask, wear it when needed, and try to avoid kissing. We know it’s easier said than done sometimes.
    • Keep an eye out for any COVID-19 symptoms and get tested before and after attending large gatherings. Visit the COVID-19 testing page or call 311 to find a no-cost testing site.
  • Be more selective of your sex partners. While we support you in your sexual activity, reducing the number of sex partners to people you live with or who are in your social bubble can minimize risk.
  • Get digital. You can have sex virtually, too! Some virtual activities include video dates, sexting, Zoom parties, or chat rooms.
  • Be a smart kisser. Don’t kiss anyone you don’t know, isn’t in your social bubble, or someone you don’t live with.
  • Mask it up in the bedroom. Wearing a mask might be fun, even during sex. It’s also a good method to minimize face-to-face contact.
  • Lean into your kink(s). Trying out new kinks, or practicing old ones while being COVID-19 conscious can be new and adventurous. Testing out new sexual positions, or using physical barriers could be a new sexual activity--while minimizing close face-to-face contact (especially if someone is unvaccinated.
  • Pleasure yourself, together. Masturbating with your partner(s) can be a great contact-free sexual activity. Make sure you’re distancing yourself and/or using face coverings to minimize the risk, especially if you or your partner is unvaccinated.
  • Use protection. Consider using condoms and dental dams to minimize contact with saliva, semen, feces, and other fluids during oral sex and anal sex.
  • Practice good sexual hygiene. Be sure to wash your hands, body, and sex toys before and after use and sexual contact. If you’re engaging in virtual sexual activity, make sure you disinfect your keyboard and touch screens--especially if you share your devices with others.

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How Apicha CHC Can Help You Stay Protected

At Apicha CHC, we want to make sure you’re living your best, healthiest life. In addition to our general services, the following services can help you maintain your sexual health:

  • STI/HIV Screening and Testing
  • PrEP/PEP Services
  • COVID-19 Vaccinations
  • COVID-19 Testing

Need an appointment? Request an appointment here.