University Health Service

Not all students have sex. For those who do, having sex with other people has always carried a mix of possible risks and benefits. COVID-19 presents a new health risk during in-person sexual activities with others, especially those who live outside our household. Some people may feel frustration or loss about these new risks. Or, they may feel relieved or glad about changing norms for how we meet people and what we do sexually.

The resources below can help you consider your options and make choices that support both personal and community well-being.

General Resources

Intimacy, Sex, and COVID-19 from Harvard Health Publishing

Mini-Series: Sex and COVID-19 from Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States

Safer Sex and COVID-19 (PDF) from NYC Health Department

Note: Along with safer sex information, this document references local resources for New York City residents. If you are a U-M student needing help with identifying resources in your area, e-mail sexualhealth@umich.edu.

Considerations for Safer Online Sex

Coronavirus Sex Guidelines Must Consider Virtual Safety from Teen Vogue

  • Do not show or send any sexual images, video, or words (texts) you receive to anyone without the sender's consent. Re-sharing without consent is a violation of their human rights.
  • Do not pressure anyone to send you sexual images, video, or words (texts). If they are unsure or not interested, and you try to convince them, that's pressuring.
  • Publicly posting private sexual materials (aka "revenge porn") is illegal in 46 states and violates the subject's human rights.
  • Identify your boundaries with digital intimacy. Ask yourself what activities you are or are not comfortable engaging in, and which you need more information about to consider. You don't have to do anything you don't want to. Communicate your boundaries before and during these activities, and know that you may stop at any time.
  • Do not compose or send explicit photos or video if you are under 18 years old. This is illegal for both the sender and recipient, even when consensual.
  • Understand that while there are technological measures that can support privacy, it is possible that private images, videos or texts can be shared by accident or on purpose by the recipient, or by a hacker. Data such as your location can also be embedded within your files. If you choose to send sexual materials, you can learn more about how to reduce risks in this article.

Student Perspectives

From You can look, but you can't touch: Dating in quarantine, Michigan Daily, 5/27/20

"In the age of COVID-19, many of us just want to feel human connection and affection outside of our parents and siblings and roommates. I never in my life imagined I would be desperately yearning for small talk with a stranger, and yet here we are."

"I can’t imagine kissing someone I don’t know or sharing a drink with a half friend in a crowded bar. Two months ago, both of these things would be routine."

"Quarantine has afforded us the ability to use dating apps like Tinder to make actual connections with a larger potential for a relationship post social distancing." 

"My standards and expectations have risen...My friends and I have come to so many epiphanies about what we want, what we’re not going to put up with, how we want to be treated and we’re feeling very confident about knowing what we want...Going into real life dating life as a twenty something, that’s the mindset that I’m having, and I really was able to figure that out because of quarantine.” 

Have a question about COVID-19 and sexual health, or general sexual wellness? E-mail Laura McAndrew at sexualhealth@umich.edu.

See also:

Sexual Health

COVID-19

SAPAC Educational Offerings for Students on consent, healthy relationships and other topics