Now that most states have begun to lift stay-at-home orders post-coronavirus pandemic, you're probably aching to finally meet that hottie from Hinge, or re-unite with your partner after quarantining separately. But if going to the grocery store without a mask on can put lives at risk, then what does that mean for sex? Is oral sex safe during the coronavirus? The answer to that is complicated, but ultimately, the risk is yours to take. Here's what experts had to say.
Is oral sex safe post-coronavirus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is primarily spread between people in close contact, within approximately 6 feet of one another. Oral sex requires, well, extremely close contact. This is why Dr. Vincent R. Racaniello, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, says that oral sex between partners who aren't in strict quarantine together can be risky. "If people are not staying at home and social distancing, or doing essential tasks, they risk being infected on a daily basis," Racaniello tells Elite Daily. "You could be infected on a weekday and decide to have sex on a weekend and infect your partner."
As the CDC explains, the spread of COVID-19 happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose enter the air and land on the faces of others in proximity. It's easy to see why an activity as intimate as oral sex could make transmission possible. "While oral sex isn't primarily associated with contact with areas that shed virus (mainly the respiratory tract), you're still very close to your partner and can easily contact his or her respiratory fluids," says Racaniello. He also says experts aren't sure whether or not the virus can be transmitted fecally, which is something to keep in mind considering oral sex puts the giving partner's face in the receiving partner's genital and anal areas.
Is COVID-19 sexually transmitted?
A study out of China, conducted by Shangqiu Municipal Hospital, showed that the coronavirus can be detected in semen. Of the 38 COVID-19 patients who participated in the study, six showed evidence that SARS CoV-2, the particular coronavirus that causes the disease, was present in their semen. Four of the men were still infected and two were recovering. However, as Jaimie Meyer, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, told Cosmopolitan, this is not definitive evidence that COVID-19 is sexually transmitted, and more research is required to determine that. For now, the takeaway is that the genetic material that causes COVID-19 can be present in multiple bodily fluids, but, in the case of semen, researchers don't know if it's infectious.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s right for you.
While none of this is especially soothing news, Dr. Amesh Adalja, M.D., FIDSA, who specializes in emerging infectious disease, pandemic preparedness, and biosecurity, says that how you decide to proceed is ultimately up to you. “This virus has established itself in the human population, so every activity that involves social interaction has the risk of transmitting the virus," Adalja tells Elite Daily. "That being said, each individual's going to have to decide for themselves what activities they want to partake in, including sex. Until there's a vaccine, which might be two years away, the virus will be a consideration in every activity. How each individual approaches it is going to be unique to that individual’s risk tolerance."
During this difficult and confusing time, protecting your health is paramount. But in the face of an ongoing pandemic, it’s also important to find a balance that'll allow you to live your life. As a result, having the facts, even when they're tough to swallow, is the best way for you and your partner to make those choices together.
If you think you're showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you're anxious about the virus's spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.
Amesh Adalja, M.D., FIDSA, specializing in emerging infectious disease, pandemic preparedness, and biosecurity
Jaimie Meyer, M.D., infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine
Vincent R. Racaniello, Ph.D., microbiology and immunology professor at Columbia University