How to Have Sex With Monkeypox, According to the CDC

First step: maybe just don't!

Closeup image of a man's back shows red skin and bumps; abstract concept of monkeypox
What to do if you simply must have sex with your monkeypox-infected lover
Berkay Ataseven

Remember a couple of years ago when the New York City Health Department told us all to “make it a little kinky” and start using glory holes in the interest of COVID-safe sex? Well, our public health authorities are back with a new set of guidelines for sex in the time of disease. This time around, it’s the CDC sharing some advice on getting it on (or not) with monkeypox — because yes, that’s still a thing that’s happening.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped a set of guidelines for monkeypox-safe(ish) sex earlier this month after a number of cases were reported in the US. In case you somehow managed to miss this latest chapter of the apocalypse, monkeypox is a viral disease that can cause flu-like symptoms and, most notably, a rash involving pimple- or blister-like sores. News of this new little viral terror began making the rounds last month after the disease started spreading in the UK. While it remains relatively rare in the US, there have been 84 confirmed cases of the virus in the country this year as of June 15, according to the CDC.

Like most viruses, monkeypox is the kind that can be transferred through close personal contact, which obviously includes sex. Naturally, the CDC’s first recommendation for sex in the time of monkeypox is to simply not have it. “If you or a partner has monkeypox, the best way to protect yourself and others is to not have sex of any kind,” the guidelines state, adding that this includes oral, vaginal and anal sex, as well as any other activities that involve kissing or touching each other’s bodies. In other words, if you or someone you know has monkeypox, maybe don’t have sex with that person. The CDC also recommends not sharing sex toys, fetish gear or toothbrushes with an infected or potentially infected partner, which all seems like pretty solid advice.

If, however, you simply must get down and dirty with your beloved and their monkeypox blisters, the CDC has some creative ideas for reducing your risk of contracting the disease — most of which are more or less the same as the sex advice we got during COVID. You could, for example, try “virtual sex with no in-person contact,” which sounds familiar. If you must be in the same room, the CDC suggests mutual masturbation, six feet apart of course, “without touching each other and without touching any rash or sores.” If all else fails, why not “consider having sex with your clothes on,” which I believe goes by the technical term “dry-humping.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for mutual masturbation and revisiting the adolescent thrill of over-the-pants stuff. When in doubt though, maybe just don’t have sex with someone who has monkeypox.

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