Sex is all about intimacy, but recently published advice from sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust recommends people should wear a face mask and avoid kissing during sex with anyone outside of their household, to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The charity said that it was now "not realistic to ask people to avoid sex indefinitely," hence its precautionary advice about how to go about it safely. As well as the introduction of face masks and a kissing ban in the bedroom, experts at the Terrence Higgins Trust also advise avoiding face-to-face contact during sex, washing hands before and after, and limiting yourself to one partner.
For a period during lockdown, it was illegal in England to have sex with anyone who does not live in the same house as you. However, as lockdown began to ease, this rule too was lifted.
The charity's medical director clarified that, obviously, the safest way to protect yourself from catching coronavirus during sex is to abstain from it altogether. However, Dr Michael Brady acknowledged that "sex is a very important part of life. That's why, as the pandemic continues, we all need to find ways to balance our need for sex and intimacy with the risks of the spread of coronavirus.
The research assessed the sexual health implications of the virus, placing different methods of sexual activity in order from safest to least-safe in terms of spreading the virus. Unsurprisingly, as the Terrence Higgins Trust also pointed out, up at the top was 'abstinence', because you won't be catching anything if you're not going anywhere near another person. Next, with the second lowest risk for coronavirus, came masturbation. Then it was sex via digital platforms (which, while it may not be risky virus-wise, the experts acknowledged comes with its own risks in terms of privacy and sexual extortion), followed by sex with someone in the same household.
Then, at the bottom of the list and deemed the most risky, came sex with someone outside your own household - during which you're recommended to wear a face mask.
The Harvard study went on to recommend, on top of wearing a face mask during sex, that you should also "shower before and after sexual intercourse" and "clean up the physical space with soap or alcohol wipes". So it seems, for the foreseeable future, that the consensus is to treat sex like something of a lab experiment.
In all seriousness, it'll take a while before any of our old dating habits can safely return. And in the meantime, we'll all just have to get on board with taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus.
Follow Cat on Instagram.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
You Might Also Like