Sex During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A note from Dr Mike Hill, LGBT Foundation Trustee

“Not only as a doctor, but also as a member of our community, I am aware of the concerns about sex during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is a new virus and we continue to learn more about it every day. LGBT Foundation is proud to contribute to and use the evidence to inform our advice.

Our evidence-based approach empowers our communities with the information they need to manage their sexual health and wellbeing during this crisis. By being open and honest, we are able to help individuals make informed decisions and support the reduction of risk. This includes taking a non-judgemental approach and facilitating open discussion about sex during the pandemic.

We recognise that opinions vary within all communities and between organisations. Shame and stigma associated with sex has had and continues to have a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of our community.

At LGBT Foundation, we will continue our work to support all of the LGBT+ community during the pandemic, including through the non-judgemental sexual health service.

Stay safe. Stay healthy”

Can I have sex during the pandemic?

Sex is usually considered good for mental fitness, physical health and relationships but currently government public health guidance and localised legislation is in force to slow the spread of COVID-19. In some parts of the country, including Greater Manchester, a fine could be issued for socialising in private gardens or homes. Guidance also states that people should not socialise with anybody who is not part of their household or support bubble in indoor public venues.

COVID-19 can be transmitted during sex due to the close contact between people. It is thought that the virus can be passed on in saliva during kissing or spit play, and through faeces during anal sex or rimming.

People living with and in close contact with an infected person have a high risk of contracting the virus. If you live with your sexual partner(s), sex is unlikely to increase that risk. Some people have been identified as at higher risk from COVID-19 and need to avoid contact even with people who live with them. If this applies to you and you would like advice, you can contact your medical team, or you can call us on 0345 3 30 30 30.

Your risk of contracting COVID-19 will increase with each person and each contact, so it’s safer to limit your pool of sexual partners as much as possible, and have sex as infrequently as possible.


So how will I get off?

Sexual intimacy can be used as a strategy to help navigate through difficult times, and physical distancing doesn’t mean everything sexy is off limits! We’re advocating for the exploration of masturbation, ensuring open communication with partners, and viewing this situation as an opportunity to explore how technology can provide a chance to have sex, but at a safe distance. You could use this time to try out something a bit different – whether this is new sex toys, phone sex, sharing sexy snaps, or video chats.

If you’re exploring digital sex it’s important that you’re feeling able to advocate for yourself, consent freely and enthusiastically, and have a good understanding of how to play safe on the internet. You might want to consider hiding your face and/or any identifying features on you such as tattoos, and blurring out the room around you to protect your identity and privacy.

If you’re not having sex for the time being, this may be a time to reflect on how your sex life was before, and any changes you’d like to make to your sex life once lockdown is over. If you don’t feel confident communicating with your partners or you're not getting what you need from your sex life, LGBT Foundation’s Sexual Health team are here to help with this.

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 sexualhealth@lgbt.foundation. If you prefer to have this discussion over the phone, send us your number and we will arrange to call you back.


What if I’m still hooking-up?

We know from our contact with the community and our sexual health partners that some people are continuing to have sex with partners outside of their own household. We are committed to helping everybody stay as safe as possible – it’s better that people have safer sex than unsafe sex.

With more partners comes more risk of COVID-19 and, depending on the types of sex you are having, an increased risk of STI and HIV infection. If you are continuing to have sex with people, it’s best to limit your pool of sexual partners as much as possible. Sex with yourself is the safest option, but if this isn’t possible then have as few partners as you can and aim to avoid group sex during the pandemic.

Sexual health clinics remain open for urgent cases, so if you need to you can still speak to a medical professional about your sexual health. You should contact them by phone and only attend in person if asked to do so by their staff.

PrEP and PEP are tools for preventing HIV transmission, and will not protect against other STIs or infections. 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.


The most up-to-date information and advice on coronavirus can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus and www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19