KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 – As the world continues to adjust to the new normal amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study has looked into ways to reduce the risk of transmission among couples between the sheets.

Scientists from Harvard University in the United States have advised couples to wear a mask, avoid kissing and follow hygiene practices while having sex to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to one another.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, elaborated on the possible risks of various sexual approaches including, sexual abstinence, masturbation, sexual activity via digital platforms as well as sex with a household and out-of-house partner.

Abstinence and masturbation were ranked as low-risk sexual activities, while sex with people within a household and those from other households were ranked as high-risk activities in the study.

To keep the risks at a minimum, researchers, led by Dr Jack Turban recommended couples to wear a mask for the riskiest sexual scenario such as having sexual contact with people not within their household.

The study also highlighted that couples must take a shower before and after having sex to prevent any possible transmission risks.

“Avoid kissing and sexual behaviour with a risk for fecal-oral transmission or that involve semen or urine,” reads the study.

It also suggested that cleaning of the physical space with soap or alcohol wipes is necessary.

The study also noted that having sex with a partner within the household is safer but there is still a risk.

“Patient is at risk of infection from a sex partner if they have been exposed to the virus while they were outside the house.”

It added that one may be at risk for infection by having sexual contact with an asymptomatic Covid-19-infected partner.

Although sexual abstinence was ranked low-risk, the researchers admitted that the approach may not be feasible for many.

The study pointed out the psychological effects of sexual abstinence and the importance of sexual impressions.

It said sexual expression is a central aspect of human health, but it is often neglected by healthcare professionals.

“Messaging around sex being dangerous may have insidious psychological effects at a time when people are especially susceptible to mental health difficulties.

“Some groups, including sexual and gender minority (SGM) communities, may be particularly vulnerable to sexual stigma, given the historical trauma of other pandemics, such as AIDS,” it added.

For the population at large, the researchers said, a recommendation of long-term sexual abstinence is unlikely to be effective, given the well-documented failures of abstinence-based public health interventions and their likelihood to promote shame.

The study also suggested that sexual activities via digital platforms such as the phone or video chat as an alternative, but warned that the users should be counselled on the risks for screenshots of conversations or videos and sexual extortion.

“Minors should be counselled about the risks of online sexual predation, which has increased since the pandemic began.”