Health · August 5, 2022

Do you have monkeypox? CDC advises against sex but says masturbation within 6 feet or virtual sex reduces risk

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that anyone with monkeypox should abstain from sex.

However, the CDC also offered a number of ways to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus through sex as the country faces a rise in monkeypox infections.

“If you or a partner has monkeypox, the best way to protect yourself and others is to avoid sex of any kind (oral, anal, vaginal) and not to kiss or touch each other’s bodies while you are ill, especially with a rash,” the CDC said. “Don’t share things like towels, fetish gear, sex toys, and toothbrushes.”

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Health care workers from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Health help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the city's immunization sites, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in New York.

Health care workers from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Health help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the city’s immunization sites, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in New York.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The CDC went on to offer advice on when, where, and how someone with monkeypox can have safe sex.

“masturbate together at least 6 feet apart without touching and without rash,” the CDC recommends. “Remember to wash your hands, fetish gear, sex toys, and all fabrics (sheets, towels, clothing) after sex.”

“Consider having sex with your clothes on or covering areas where a rash is present and reducing as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. If the rash is limited to the genitals or anus, condoms may help; However, condoms alone are probably not enough to prevent monkeypox.”

People wait to receive the monkeypox vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Manhattan on July 26, 2022 in New York City.

People wait to receive the monkeypox vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Manhattan on July 26, 2022 in New York City.
(Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images)

Earlier this week, the Biden administration appointed senior officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as White House coordinators for fighting the monkeypox outbreak.

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Health and Human Services Minister Xavier Becerra said Thursday he had declared a public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak.

Later Thursday, President Biden tweeted that he remains “committed to our response to monkeypox: ramping up vaccine distribution, expanding testing, and educating vulnerable communities.”