Should We Really Be Wearing Face Masks During Sex?

Health officials say yes, but how practical or effective can a face mask really be during sex?

a bra, face mask and condom wrapper lying on a bed
The mask stays ON during sex.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sex is weird. Sex during coronavirus is weirder. From glory holes to long-distance sex toys and masturbating six feet apart from each other, recommendations for pandemic-safe sex continue to pop up as health officials realize indefinite abstinence simply isn’t a sustainable plan. Now, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer is throwing another recommendation into the growing pool of COVID sex guidelines: wear a mask.

In a public statement Wednesday, Dr. Theresa Tam advised Canadians to limit the risk of coronavirus transmission during sex by “avoiding face-to-face contact or closeness,” suggesting pandemic sex-havers skip kissing and don a face mask for the duration of their sex session.

Tam isn’t the first to suggest wearing a mask during sex. Masking up in the bedroom was one of many ways the New York City Health Department encouraged partners to “make it a little kinky” while limiting the risk of COVID-19 exposure during sex back in June, and last month advice from sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust also encouraged sex partners to nix kissing and wear masks.

But how much good does wearing a mask during sex really do in terms of limiting the spread of coronavirus? While Tam’s statement noted that current evidence indicates a “very low likelihood” of transmitting the virus through semen or vaginal fluids, sex is still pretty much the least socially distant activity you can commit with another person, even if you’re both wearing masks.

More importantly, is anyone actually going to take the time to mask up before doing the deed? While we now have some anecdotal evidence to suggest that some people have indeed taken the NYC Health Department’s glory hole advice, the vast majority of these COVID-safe sex suggestions strike me as ultimately impractical, however creative or kinky they may be.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t follow this advice, but simply questioning whether we really will. After all, an alarming number of grown-ass, sex-having adults can barely bring themselves to wear a condom during sex. Can we really expect them to put on a mask?

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