The Least Germy Way to Have Sex When You’re Sick
What’s the story with having sex on the sniffles? Graham King, MD, a physician with Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minnesota, has a patient who wears a sanitary mask while sick — an unproven method that King says could, theoretically, help prevent spreading the illness. But the decision to get horizontal when you’re already laid up comes down to your illness, symptoms, and how you’re feeling. It most likely won’t make you feel worse, but it also won’t speed up your recovery.
“I don’t think it is inherently ‘bad’ to have sex while you’re sick, as long as you feel up for it,” says Kristen Mark, PhD, director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky.
Especially when people have influenza, they typically aren’t craving sex, says King. They feel like crap and may have a fever, which can sap all of their energy. They’re also highly contagious, especially from 24 hours before they show any symptoms and up to five to seven days after they’re sick. So, if you have a (rare) case of experiencing increased libido while you’re sick with the flu, it’s best to wait to have sex until the fever breaks and you begin to feel better. “When you can tell you’ve beaten it, then your body is in the recovery phase,” King says, “and it’s typically okay to be more intimate with your partner.”
According to a study published in Microbiome, French kissing transfers 80 million bacteria every 10 seconds.
The common cold, on the other hand, usually comes without a fever, so you might feel more inclined to have sex. But as with influenza, all that coughing and sneezing sends droplets into the air that spread the cold virus. You can’t fully eliminate the risk of getting your partner sick when having sex, but there are a few things you can do to reduce it.
First, it’s best to avoid super intimate positions and deep kissing. “While the virus is not transmitted through any sexual secretions, breathing on each other and kissing where oral secretions are exchanged can transfer the virus from one person to another,” King explains. (Same goes for bacteria: According to a study…