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Health officials suggest people use ‘glory holes’ for sex to reduce coronavirus risk

Health officials suggest people use ‘glory holes’ for sex to reduce coronavirus risk

  • Reducing risk doesn’t have to mean stopping sex – but adjusting what you do.
A glory hole in a public restroom.

Health officials in the Canadian state of British Columbia have suggested people use ‘glory holes’ to make sex safer during COVID-19.

‘Glory holes’ are holes cut in a wall that’s only large enough for a penis to get through. For years they’ve been primarily the domain of illicit sex in public bathrooms and darkroom mazes in gay saunas and sex clubs.

But now the British Columbia Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests trying them at home. On its site the CDC says:

‘Use barriers, like walls (eg, glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.’

Can sex pass on COVID-19?

In fact they aren’t the only ones offering the tip. New York City Health also proposed the idea – but without using the slang term ‘glory holes’. In its ‘Safer Sex and COVID-19’ guidance it says:

‘Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face-to-face contact.’

At the moment, doctors are still unclear on exactly how risky sex is for coronavirus.

They have found the virus in the semen and feces (poo) of people with COVID-19. That means oral sex and rimming, even with a wall in the way, may be risky.

But they don’t know if COVID-19 can spread through vaginal or anal sex. Moreover, other coronaviruses do not easily spread through sex.

The big problem with COVID-19 is that sex also involves getting close to people’s saliva, mucus or breath. The virus spreads readily through all of these. And so simply kissing or getting up close to someone is risky for passing it on.

That’s why health officials advise people to masturbate or to try video or phone sex.

Meanwhile, if you suspect you have COVID-19 you should abstain from face-to-face sex.

At other times, experts suggest a regular partner who is only having sex with you – and ideally lives with you – is the lowest risk. If you do have sex, you should wash thoroughly with soap and water before and after and consider wearing a mask.

You can find detailed advice on sex and reducing the risks during the coronavirus pandemic here.