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Having consensual sex with other people has always carried a mix of possible risks and benefits. COVID-19 presents a new health risk during in-person sexual activities with others and is an important factor to be considered during sexual decision making. Our choices impact not only ourselves, but also our classmates, colleagues and the entire New Haven community. These are choices we would all be making anyway, but for public health reasons, different kinds of risks exist right now.
Communicating openly about both safety and boundaries with potential partners may be helpful for those navigating choices about sex during this time.
We ask that all members of the Yale community commit to following university and public health guidance and protocols and practice thoughtful decision-making, even when that may mean significant changes to the kinds of interactions or relationships we might prefer to be having.
The information and resources below can help you consider your options and make choices that support both personal and community well-being.
The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You also get it from direct contact with saliva (for example through kissing) and mucus. You can get COVID-19 from touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching areas of the body like the mouth, nose or eyes.
Experts know that one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of the virus is to limit in-person interactions to a small group of people. This means that the safest sexual partner - aside from yourself - is a single, consistent sexual partner, one that isn’t interacting with lots of other people.
Limiting contact with others limits the chance of infection. Masturbate, use toys. Just be sure to wash your hands or any sex toys for at least 20 seconds before and after with soap and water.
Only engage in intimate activities like kissing or sex if both parties are feeling well. Do not engage in sexual activity with anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who has tested postive. Remember that even if you or your partner test negative, it means that you were probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. It is possible that you were very early in your infection when your sample was collected and that you could test positive later. Additionally, most young adults can carry the virus without experiencing any symptoms. This is why monitoring your symptoms daily and regular testing is important.
Kissing can easily pass COVID-19. Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your small circle of contacts and do not engage in kissing if you or your partner are ill.
Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva or feces, especially during oral and anal sex in addition to preventing transmission of STIs including HIV.
Washing up before and after sex is more important than ever. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Consensual virtual connections over the phone or on web platforms can be ways to interact socially and sexually without exchanging fluids.
Use this time to liven up your sex life while staying safe! Though wearing a mask while having sex might not be your thing, it is a good way to add a layer of protection, especially since heavy breathing can spread the virus further.
Rimming, or any sexual activity that involves putting your mouth on the anus, might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter your mouth and potentially cause an infection. Consider pressing pause for now.
Most importantly - all partners involved in any type of sexual activity must agree to that activity. Sexual contact without consent isn’t sex- it’s sexual assault.
If you have any questions or concerns related to consent, sexual boundaries, or sexual misconduct, you can call the SHARE Center 24/7 hotline at (203) 432-2000.