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A new Harvard study advises couples to wear masks and avoid kissing while having sex

If you're not in quarantine together, whip that mask out.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Turns out that the only fool-proof way to avoid contracting COVID-19 while having sex is abstinence. No surprise there, of course. 

But that's not the only suggestion made by Harvard University researchers following a new study they conducted about sexual health in the coronavirus era.

"On the basis of existing data, it appears all forms of in-person sexual contact carry risk for viral transmission, because the virus is readily transmitted by aerosols and fomites," reads the study, confirming that intimacy does, indeed, carry along with it a risk of exposure.

The researchers offer a broad range of recommendations for couples who are not quarantining together and want to avoid the spread of the disease while having sex. The suggestions include wearing masks, avoiding kissing, showering before and after sex and "cleaning of the physical space with soap or alcohol wipes." 

The experts actually go a step further, ranking sexual scenarios based on how likely it is you'd catch the virus while partaking in them.

Needless to say, abstinence and masturbation are the lowest risk activities. Although "sexual activity via digital platforms, such as the phone or video chat" is also considered low risk, the study suggests taking into account the potential "for screenshots of conversations or videos and sexual extortion" to arise from the scenarios. 

"Sex with those with whom one is self-quarantined" is considered risky behavior, given that partners may have been exposed to the virus while outside of the home. Getting intimate with folks one is not even quarantining with, on the other hand, carries along with it the highest risk of infection.

But the experts aren't completely clueless and understand that the suggestion to abstain from intimacy entirely is "likely to promote shame and unlikely to achieve intended behavior outcomes." The researchers therefore posit that "sex-positive recommendations regarding remote sexual activity are optimal during the pandemic, balancing human needs for intimacy with personal safety and pandemic control." That is all to say: try and practice safe sex.

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