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‘Safe sex’ might now mean couples wearing face masks during intercourse, new study says

A new study from researchers at Harvard University reported that people engaging in sex should also consider wearing a face mask in addition to other typical preventative measures.

What are the details?

The research was published in May in the Annals of Internal Medicine and ranked situations based on their individual likelihood of catching COVID-19.

The riskiest sexual scenario is sex with people other than those with whom a person is quarantined. Other high-risk behaviors include having sex with someone outside your household, and even sometimes sex with someone inside your household, depending on who they may have come in contact with during outdoor ventures.

The research suggested avoiding kissing as well as any other oral actions that involve bodily fluids. Couples are encouraged to clean themselves thoroughly before and after intercourse, and sanitize the area with disinfectant afterward.

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Researchers said that the best option to avoiding infection is abstinence, as it is “low risk for infection” despite being “not feasible for many.” Another option that is considered safer includes “sexual activity via digital platforms, such as the phone or video chat.” Researchers, however, encourage people to be aware of the heightened risk of “sexual extortion” in which a person takes a screenshot of the encounter and shares with other people.

The study’s authors wrote: “SARS-CoV-2 is present in respiratory secretions and spreads through aerosolized particles. It may remain stable on surfaces for days. On the basis of this information, all types of in-person sexual activity probably carry risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Infected individuals have the potential to spread respiratory secretions onto their skin and personal objects, from which the virus can be transmitted to a sexual partner. Because many SARS-CoV-2-infected people are asymptomatic, HCPs are left with little to offer beyond guidance to not engage in any in-person sexual activity.”

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