What you need to know about COVID-19 and sexual activity.

By Jessica Migala
March 05, 2020

Tinder is looking out for your health. The popular dating app recently sent out a pop-up that reads, “While we want you to continue to have fun, protecting yourself from the coronavirus is more important,” reported Business Insider. The pop-up then goes on to give common sense disease-prevention advice, such as washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, with a link to visit the World Health Organization (WHO) for more info.

Perhaps there’s just something about a disease outbreak that makes people want to quarantine and…get busy? Reuters reported that sales for condoms have gone up in China, where COVID-19—the official name for the coronavirus that has since spread across the globe—was first detected. Sales of condoms are so high there, they're currently ranking as one of the more popular items purchased from e-commerce sites.

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All that brings us to our next question: Can you contract the coronavirus from having sex? What about kissing? How about oral?

The short answer is that experts really don’t know. “What we know thus far is that COVID-19 is present in respiratory secretions,” Kristin Englund, MD, of the department of infectious disease at the Cleveland Clinic, tells Health. Respiratory secretions include droplets that exit a person's mouth from coughing or sneezing. Because these secretions from an infected person can carry the virus, some countries (like France) are discouraging people from greeting one another with a cheek kiss, reported The Washington Post.

But kissing a partner, of course, is far more intimate than a random peck on the cheek. While it makes sense that kissing someone infected with COVID-19 could leave you infected, “at this point in time, we don’t know these specific details,” says Dr. Englund. What we do know is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the virus can spread from “close contact” with someone, with close contact generally defined as being within six feet of a person. If you’re kissing or having sex, well, you’re well within this limit...and potentially at risk if your partner carries the virus.

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Is the coronavirus present in other bodily fluids like vaginal secretions or semen? That's also unknown at this time, says Dr. Englund. “We really can’t make any statements about safety [of sexual activity] when we don’t have any data on it,” she explains.

If you're concerned about staying healthy, then it makes sense to avoid kissing or getting physically close to a partner who is showing signs of the coronavirus, which include flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and having a fever. “We think that the risk of transmission is greatest when people are symptomatic," says Dr. Englund. If you’re worried that a partner could be a carrier of the coronavirus but is not showing signs, it's best to postpone any sex sessions until you know their health status for sure.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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