Sex and Coronavirus

Reduce the risk of coronavirus during sex

  • Only be sexually active with a partner living in your household.
  • If you decide to be sexually active with someone living outside of your household, limit it to as few partners as possible, preferably one regular partner.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sexual activity.
  • Consider masturbation or remote sexual activity as alternatives to physical sexual activity with others.

When to consider avoiding sex and kissing

  • If you or your partner has symptoms of coronavirus, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or loss of smell or taste. Anyone with common symptoms of coronavirus should self-isolate and phone their GP or Out of Hours services straight away to get a coronavirus test.
  • If you have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, you will need to restrict your movements for 14 days after your last contact with the person who has COVID-19 and you will be referred for testing, even if you have no symptoms.
  • It’s important to be particularly careful if you or your sexual partner has an underlying medical condition, as you are more likely to become very ill if you get coronavirus. These include lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, or a weakened immune system. Find out more about at-risk groups.
  • If you don’t have consent. Learn more >>>

Get ‘A guide to navigating healthy relationships during the COVID-19 outbreak’.

Safer sex practices

As well as protecting yourself from coronavirus, it is important to take the usual safer sex precautions to protect yourself from unplanned pregnancy, STIs and HIV.

  • Always use a condom. Condoms give the best protection against STIs and are 98% effective against pregnancy when you use them correctly and every time you have sex.
  • Use hormonal contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Talk to your pharmacist or GP about different methods of hormonal contraception. If your hormonal contraception prescription is due for renewal, your pharmacist may be able to provide you with additional supplies if it is safe and appropriate to do so.
  • Emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex to prevent unplanned pregnancy. The sooner you take it, the more effective it is. You can get EHC without prescription from your local pharmacy. If you need EHC, phone your pharmacist, who may be able to carry out the consultation over the phone. This will reduce the amount of time you will need to spend in the pharmacy.
  • Get tested for STIs if you have symptoms of an STI. There have been restrictions to many public STI services during the coronavirus outbreak. Contact your local STI clinic or GP to check their testing service availability. 
  • PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)is medication that can help prevent HIV transmission if you are HIV negative and at substantial risk of acquiring HIV.
  • PEP – If you have been recently exposed to HIV PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) is a course of HIV medication that can help to prevent HIV infection. This is available through public STI clinics and in Emergency Departments.

Learn about sexual health services during coronavirus pandemic >>>