Is It Okay to Have Sex With a COVID-19 Infection If Your Partner Is Vaccinated?
When I tested positive with COVID-19 last month, I felt awful. The body aches, headache and fever left me severely fatigued and uncomfortable. Having sex—or being touched at all—was the last thing on my mind.
Luckily, after two days, I was almost completely back to normal. The fever and aches were gone, and my only remaining symptoms were minor congestion and fatigue—similar to a mild cold. My husband and I are both vaccinated and share a bed, and he never got sick. Because everything seemed normal, we were both up for having sex before my quarantine ended—but would it be safe?
Sex with COVID-19
Even if you are asymptomatic or have improved symptoms from a COVID-19 infection, experts recommend not having sex until you have isolated for at least five full days.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, you should stay home and isolate yourself from others in your home for at least five days. (Note: Day zero is considered your first day of symptoms or a positive test, with day one being the first full day after symptoms developed or your test specimen was collected.)
What exactly does isolation mean?
"People who are in isolation should stay home until it's safe for them to be around others," stated the CDC. "At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, or wear a well-fitting mask when they need to be around others. People in isolation should stay in a specific 'sick room' or area and use a separate bathroom if available."
If you tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, you should stay home and isolate yourself from others in your home for at least five days.
The CDC said you can conclude isolation following five days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, and if your other symptoms have improved. However, they recommend continuing to use a mask around others at home and in public for another five days.
The bottom line: If you tested positive for COVID, you should be isolating from everyone in your home, sleeping in a separate bedroom and masking around others for at least 10 days. This means no sex until your isolation period has fully ended.
"If one tests positive, it's best to follow guidelines and quarantine until negative tests can be had to avoid infecting other individuals," said Kecia Gaither, M.D., a double board-certified physician in OB-GYN and maternal-fetal medicine in New York City.
Are there any ways to make sex with COVID safer?
If you want to have sex while COVID positive, despite CDC recommendations, there are things you can do to make it a little safer. For starters, make sure both you and your partner consent to having sex with COVID and understand the risks with catching the virus. Next, check if your partner is vaccinated.
"It's best to obtain all three series of vaccinations against COVID," said Gaither. The CDC states staying up to date on COVID vaccines protects people from "getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized and even dying."
Next, consider wearing a mask while having sex. The World Health Organization (WHO) explained that COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact with each other through an infected person's mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. If both you and your partner wear a mask, it could help lower the risk of passing the infection on.
Yale Health recommends using condoms and dental dams, which can reduce contact with saliva and feces during oral and anal sex. However, they stress you should avoid having all sex with someone who has tested positive or is showing symptoms. Instead, they recommend masturbation, using toys with yourself, and having sex over the phone or online to avoid exchanging fluids.
Taking a break from partnered sex while COVID-positive is recommended to avoid spreading the virus. If you feel up for it, use your isolation as a chance to get creative alone or via technology with sexual pleasure. And if you can't wait, wearing a mask during sex is the best option to keep your partner safe.