Can I Have Sex When I'm Sick?

senior couple in bed with the flu
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Feel like a roll in the hay but also a little under the weather? What do you do if you are sick but you still want to have sex? Is it safe? Will your partner get sick too?

The answer really depends on what is making you sick and what symptoms you have. If you just have a cold and your partner doesn't mind getting it too (if he/she doesn't already), then you are most likely fine to go ahead and get busy.

If your situation is a little more complicated than that, here are some things to consider.

If You Have a Fever

If you are running a fever, you are most likely contagious. Fevers generally make you feel achy and tired, so chances are you probably don't even feel like having sex if your temperature is already elevated. Talk to your partner and ask him or her to hold off until your temperature is back to normal.

If You Have the Flu

If you have the flu (not just a bad cold), you need to skip the sex until you are better. The flu is serious and you don't want to put your partner at risk by passing it over. Most people who have the flu don't have the energy to have sex anyway, but don't take any chances even if you do.

If You Have a Stomach Flu or Virus

If you have symptoms of a stomach virus, including vomiting and/or diarrhea, do your partner a favor and avoid sex until your symptoms have been gone for at least 24 hours.

Most viruses that cause these symptoms are highly contagious and no one wants them.

How Do the Germs Spread?

If you have a respiratory illness (cold, flu, upper respiratory infection, etc.), these viruses are generally not spread through sexual contact. However, they are passed through droplets and saliva so they are very likely to make your partner sick if you are kissing, breathing close to each others' faces, coughing, or sneezing while you are between the sheets together.

When Are You Contagious?

The duration of time in which you can spread your germs to someone else and make them sick can vary depending on the illness. Most common illnesses are most contagious within the first few days of symptoms but some can be spread for as long as symptoms are present and even before they start or after they have subsided.

A Word From Verywell: Consider Your Partner's Health

If your partner isn't sick with the same illness you are dealing with, he or she would probably prefer to avoid getting sick. Discussing the possibility is a good idea even if the healthy partner is the one initiating the intimacy.

Something else to consider is how your illness may affect your partner. If he or she is in a high-risk group or is likely to have more serious symptoms than the average healthy person, taking chances with health isn't worth it. Many times, being in this high-risk group warrants a flu shot to stay safe.

Most people aren't interested in having sex when they are sick—or they aren't interested in having sex with someone who is sick. But if you both want to, take the above into consideration when making your decision.

If you have a chronic health condition that could be impacted by sexual activity, always talk to your healthcare provider about the safety of doing so.

Especially if you have an illness like the flu in addition to other health concerns.

Sources:

"How Flu Spreads". Seasonal Influenza (Flu). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. 2015.

Meissner, Cody H., MD, FAAP. "How Are Respiratory Viruses Transmitted?" AAP News Vol. 35 No. 1. 2015.

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