Q: Can condoms prevent Ebola (and other illnesses)?

Q: I’m really freaking out about Ebola! How can I be sure my hookups are safe?

We’ve been seeing a lot of this in the news, and more than once, we’ve been messaged by worried readers about the spread of this dangerous disease. Today, this even popped up on our Tumblr dash:

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Don’t worry, friends. It is, and has been for a while now.

Ebola is transmitted via bodily fluids. And yes, that does include those fluids swapped during sex, like semen or vaginal mucous. For the most part, these can be blocked with use of a male or female condom.

But just like with contact STDs like HPV or herpes, just using a condom doesn’t mean you’re going to avoid other bodily fluids. Spit is the obvious culprit (the virus has not yet been found to be transmitted via sweat), but some couples may even come in contact with blood, breast milk, or even urine outside of the condom during sex, all of which have been found capable of carrying the disease.

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The World Health Organization has also found that while the incubation period for the disease is 21 days (resulting in 42 days being the necessary time to declare an outbreak over), the viral load can persist in semen for far longer– between 70 and 90 days!

So, as of right now, men who may have come in contact with Ebola are being instructed to wear a condom while engaging in sex. Survivors of the disease are being told to wear one up until six months after their diagnosis, just to be sure. Hopefully many will use this time to set a precedent for healthy condom use and safe sex throughout the rest of their lives.

It’s also worth noting how important it is to use condoms correctly. A broken condom is just as useless at preventing the spread of disease as wearing no condom at all.

Sick Sex

Sex is a messy, messy business. Humans are teeming with bacteria, and we love to share it with our partners when we’re knocking boots. This isn’t the first epidemic that we’ve spread to one another via sex and it won’t be the last.

If you can’t resist the urge to jump your partner’s bones when you’re sick with the common cold or even the flu, there’s plenty of precautions you can take.

  1. Get tested. When you’re sick, your immune system is busy vanquishing great foes and it may be unprepared to take on other viral loads. If you’re uncertain of your partner’s STD status, you may want to wait. Here are some suggestions on what to do while you’re waiting for STD test results.
  2. And you definitely want to use a barrier method. I mean, duh.
  3. Avoid oral. If you have cold sores, they’re more likely to come out when you’re sick. Why? See above. A busy immune system will have trouble fighting off the other viruses already dormant in your body. Cold sores are a part of the herpes virus, and believe it or not, you can get one from the other.
  4. Avoid kissing, or being face-to-face. It may zap some of the romance, but the easiest way to spread the common cold or the flu is through the mucous membranes in the mouth and nose. Doggy-style enthusiasts, today is your day!
  5. Take it easy. Just like going for a jog when you’re sick, having sex can easily tire you down, which may make recovering from your sickness a little more taxing on the body. If you’re not feeling up to it, don’t be afraid to take a raincheck, or go for a simpler activity, like mutual masturbation. Our Saucy Spoons positions is great for that!
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