You asked, we answered: Can I get COVID-19 by having sex?

Published March 4, 2021


A man and a woman standing very near each other with masks on.


If I’m having unprotected sex, but I have a mask on, will it protect me from COVID-19 if my partner has it?

Answered by infectious diseases expert Sara Bares, MD

Close contact with someone who has COVID-19, whether engaged in sexual activity or not, can expose you to the virus. Masks are just one layer of protection. Since respiratory droplets are the primary mode of transmission, the risk would be reduced if the person with COVID-19 is also wearing a mask. 

However, people with COVID-19 could also spread respiratory droplets onto their skin and the surfaces around them. If you touch these surfaces and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes, the virus could be transmitted. Further, the virus can spread through contact with feces. Sometimes sexual activities can expose you to fecal matter.

Although there is currently no evidence that the COVID-19 virus transmits through semen or vaginal fluids, it has been detected in the semen of people recovering from COVID-19. We would thus recommend avoiding any close contact, especially very intimate contact like unprotected sex, with someone with active COVID-19 to minimize the risk of transmission.

Get the latest fact-checked information on COVID-19 vaccines.