Safer sex during the Covid-19 pandemic

A guide to enjoying sex whilst reducing the risk of  infection

The various ‘social distancing’ restrictions we have all got used to since March 2020 have been an important factor containing the virus.

We know that those restrictions have been difficult. Everyone has had to make sacrifices around who we can and cannot meet. Of course, this has affected many people’s sex lives and relationships.

Sex is an important part of human life and has many physical and emotional benefits. We’ve received queries on what is safe, how to reduce the risk of Covid when having sex and where to find additional information.

Top Tips

There is more to be discovered about Covid-19 and how it spreads, but this is what we know so far:

  • Covid-19 is highly contagious, and you can catch it from someone who is already infected.
  • The virus spreads mainly through airway droplets (sneezing, coughing or speaking) and through directly touching contaminated surfaces.
  • The virus can spread to people who are within 2 metres (6 feet) of an infected person who coughs or sneezes.
  • Covid-19 has already been found in faeces (poo) of people who are infected with the virus.
  • Some research has found Covid-19 in semen and vaginal fluids.
  • Not everyone who is infected will have symptoms, but they are still likely to be highly infectious. This is known as being asymptomatic.

Although there is little evidence of spreading Covid-19 during sex, the general closeness and sharing of bodily fluids will make transmission more likely. Here are some helpful tips to consider before having sex, to reduce the risk of infection during:

  • Test for covid-19 prior to meeting sexual partners. Ensuring you are not carrying the virus before getting intimated will help protect you and your partners.
  • Get vaccinated – a Covid-19 vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your partners from Covid-19 illness, hospitalisation and death, including from more contagious variants of the virus.
  • Vaccination status – If you and your partner are fully vaccinated, the risk of Covid-19 infection is reduced.
  • Wash your hands before and after sex.
  • Use a condom. Condoms are effective and can reduce contact with sperm (cum) and saliva (spit) especially during oral and anal sex.
  • Be careful during anal sex. This applies to rimming (mouth on anus), penetrative anal sex and anal toy play. Covid-19 is present in faeces (poo) and therefore these acts carry a risk of transmission. But you can reduce some of the risk by:
    • Using condoms or a dental dam to act as a barrier between the mouth and the bottom
    • Using lube
    • Washing thoroughly before and after (including toys)
  • Do not share sex toys and wash them before and after use (including personal use).
  • is the best way to protect yourself and your
    partners from Covid-19 illness, hospitalization and death, including from
    more contagious variants of the virus.
  • Avoid sex parties and large gatherings. If you do attend you should follow the current Covid-19 guidance at all times.

The risk of catching an STI, including HIV, is low if national guidance on social distancing is observed. After all, you cannot catch an STI if you are not having sexual contact with another person. For regular partners – whether those are friends, flatmates, lovers or spouses – it is worth having an HIV and STI test to ensure there are no infections that might be passed on without protection. You can order a self-sampling free online HIV and STI kit here.

If you are planning to have sex with someone outside of your household (or bubble) the risk of catching an STI (in addition to Covid-19) is increased and our advice about safer sex in other parts of this website should be followed. Don’t forget:

  • Consider wearing a condom and using lube – A condom is one of the most effective ways of protecting yourself from STIs including HIV (all gay and bisexual men in London can order a free home delivered Do It London condom and lube pack here.)
  • Consider using PrEP – For basic information on PrEP including its benefits in protecting against HIV and where to access it click here.
  • Having an undetectable viral load (U=U) means you cannot pass on HIV – to find out more about U=U click here.
  • Take an HIV test and be sure of your status – you can order online self-sampling HIV test here; they’re quick, easy and confidential
  • Use other forms of protection: For more information on the most effective methods of preventing HIV, click here.
  • Access sexual health care and treatment – if you need an STI test, you may not be able to attend a physical sexual health clinic due to Covid-19. If you have symptoms you should phone your local clinic and they will advise you on what to do; you can locate your local sexual health clinic here. Testing for an STI can also be completed at home – for details on how to order a home testing kit click here.

The latest UK Government guidance can be found here: