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Should You Have Sex When You Have the Flu?

By Leah Groth ; Updated March 26, 2018

You are probably already well aware that flu season is more than just bad this year. But did you know that this recent scary flu strain should make you rethink your sex life? It’s true!

If you are infected and in the midst of the terrible sickness that has been going around, it is likely you will not be in the mood to get it on. Because nothing makes a person feel sexier than phlegm-filled coughing fits, nausea, headaches and a fever, right? However, if you do get the urge for some “sexual healing” with your significant other, there is quite a good chance you will pass on this winter’s gift that keeps on giving.

“The flu is spread by way of respiratory droplets,” Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D., a urologist and sexual health expert at Orlando Health in Florida, told Health. “The droplets can spread via sneezing, coughing, breathing, shaking hands and kissing.” These infested droplets can live as long as 24 hours on countertops, one to two hours on sheets and 15 to 30 minutes on hands.

So, in other words, yes, sex will likely spread the flu to your significant other.

To put it simply, you probably shouldn’t even be sleeping in the same room as your special someone. “The general rule is to stay six feet away from anyone who might have the flu,” said Kate White, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University. “The chances you’ll get through sex without the sick partner sneezing, coughing or even just breathing on you is highly unlikely.”

OK, so, obviously, if you know that either one of you is sick or coming down with the flu, you should avoid intimacy at all costs. The problem lies in the simple fact that many people don’t even show flu symptoms for he first week they are infected, despite the fact that they are still highly contagious.

And then there’s the aftermath: Even though someone has started feeling better, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t still sick. A person can still be contagious seven days after symptoms have subsided, so both doctors recommend waiting to engage in sex for at least a week after you or your partner are free of symptoms. Yeah — seven whole days.

What if you simply refrain from kissing while doing the deed? Dr. White maintains it is not going to make a difference. “There’s no way for people to be that close to one another without the risk of transmission from the face,” she said. “If you want to be ultra safe, it’s also a good idea to sleep in a separate bed from an infected partner.”

The best way to avoid infecting one another may not seem all that sexy — that is unless you have kinky medical sexual fantasies. Brahmbhatt suggests wearing a face mask at home if your partner is sick. Not only will it keep you healthy, but it is also “the perfect way to live out that doctor’s office fantasy.”

If you must get some action, Vice’s Tonic offers another alternative — co-masturbation. “It’s an extremely underrated sex act,” Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist in California, told them. “Not many people do it, so the novelty of it can be quite thrilling. Plus, there’s the taboo of doing our most private act out in the open.”

Our advice? Wait until both you and your partner are totally flu-free before you get back to business in bed. Not only will you keep from spreading it to one another, but you might avoid some not-so-sexy phlegm kisses.

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