10 ways to reduce health risks during sex

Whether it's Monkeypox, Flu, or Covid-19, close contact with sexual partners can increase your risk of contracting an infection.

Despite this risk, we understand that for some people sex is important and so below are some ideas on how to reduce the risk.

1. The fewer people, the better

During periods of infectious disease outbreaks, you may choose to limit the number of people you have sexual contact with and the number of times you have sex. The more time you leave between sexual or non-sexual physical contact with other people, the less likely you are to pass on infections to others.

2. Keep it clean

You should ensure you thoroughly wash both before and as soon as possible after, ensuring you don’t share towels. Your clothing should be washed after contact with other people. Washing your hands regularly or using hand sanitiser will also reduce your risk.

3. Where to do it

Consider the surfaces that will be touched during the activity, consider using an easy to wipe surface or using a towel that can be thoroughly washed afterwards.

4. Make time for masturbation

Consider less risky sexual activities such as mutual masturbation. Sexual activity with less close contact will reduce the risk of some infections.

5. Safer sex is key

Continue to practice safer sex, whether it is through using condoms, PrEP, or both. Using condoms and lube is as important as ever in protecting you and your partner(s). We’re providing free postal condoms and lube to Greater Manchester residents, which you can order here.

6. Avoid spit

Some infections are passed on saliva or by skin to skin contact. To reduce this risk, avoid sexual activity that exchanges saliva such as kissing and spit play. Try to avoid oral sex, or reduce the risk by using barrier protection such as a condom, internal condom or dental dam for oral sex.

7. Shit talk

Some infections can be passed on through faeces, including Shigella. For these infections, anal sex and in particular rimming increases your risk. If you do have anal sex, the receptive partner should thoroughly douche beforehand. You could use a dental dam when rimming as a barrier between you and your partner.

8. Try out new positions

Choose a sexual position that isn’t face-to-face. Consider having sex in front of a mirror if you want to see your partner’s face whilst having intercourse. Think about how you can reduce contact - perhaps now is the time to try out some clothed role-play or that glory hole fantasy.

9. Don’t share your toys

Sharing sex toys increases the risks of passing on the virus and STIs, but may be safer than having sex. If you do use sex toys, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned before and after use.

10. Look after your gear

Limit the use of any fetish clothing or gear. Clean any gear thoroughly before and after use. Remember that many items, such as fetish gas-masks, are designed for sex play rather than protection from infection.

You can find more information about sex during the COVID-19 pandemic here, and about Monkeypox here. As always, if you want to talk to someone about the type of sex you’re having, or the sex that you want to have, you can contact our sexual health team for non-judgemental sex positive discussions at [email protected]. If you prefer to have this discussion over the phone, send us your number and we will arrange to call you back.

The most up-to-date information and advice on coronavirus can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

The most up-to-date information and advice on monkeypox can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/monkeypox