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'Sex positive' approach to COVID-19 explained by BC Centre for Disease Control

Image Credit: Submitted/B.C. Centre for Disease Control
July 25, 2020 - 6:00 PM

Eyebrows were raised and options were offered when the BC Centre for Disease Control released its COVID-19 and sex resource guide this week.

While the titters on Twitter and other forms of social media went far beyond provincial boundaries, the BCCDC has said there’s a perfectly good reason why their recommendations touched on everything from masturbation to glory holes.

“The philosophy behind this resource is one that takes a sex-positive approach to sexual health,” the BCCDC's Dr. Troy Grennan said in a video posted July 24.

“The idea there is we recognize sex is an important and necessary part of many people’s lives but it’s often surrounded by shame and stigma and other things that can hamper the conversation around sex.”


During a pandemic, a resource that knocks down those boundaries and pokes a few holes in the conventional conversations around sex can help limit the risk of further COVID-19 spread.

In the latest video clip put out July 25, Dr. Grennan said the BCCDC  recognized some of the things mentioned don’t apply to everyone but want they wanted to be as open and heterogeneous as possible.

“There is no one size fits all approach (pun intended) to the suggestions we’re making in the resource,” he said.

“I think hopefully we’ve covered enough diversity within the options provided that something would fit within most people’s sexual lives.”

“You are your safest sex partner,” it says on its web site. “Your next-safest sex partner(s) is/are the person(s) you live with, or the person(s) who has close contact with only you and no one else.”


The sex guide explains that COVID-19 is spread through liquid droplets from saliva, breathing or coughing, so kissing is a higher risk activity.


COVID-19 has also been found in semen and feces but, according to the guide, it’s unclear if the disease can be spread by having sex.

Here are some suggestions the B.C. Centre for Disease Control makes about having sex during COVID-19.

“Masturbating by yourself (solo sex) will not spread COVID-19,” it stated. “If you masturbate with a partner(s), physical distancing will lower your chance of getting COVID-19.”

Virtual sex through things like phone chats, sexting, online chat rooms and group cam rooms are also ways to engage in sexual activity safely but, the article warns about the risks of sharing information or photos online.

If sex must be with a partner, the guide suggests, first of all, make sure no one has any symptoms.

Then it recommends washing your bodies and any sex toys with soap and water and your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Wearing face coverings is recommended as heavy breathing can increase the number of droplets you may spread.

Choose positions that limit face-to-face contact. Using condoms, lubricants and dental dams may cut down on risk.

Or there are other ways to keep your distance.

“Use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact,” the BCCDC suggested.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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