Gay and bisexual men should avoid oral sex and positions that involve face-to-face contact to limit the spread of monkeypox, a charity has said.
The LGBT Foundation has released sexual health advice for men who have sex with men, who have made up the majority of new cases of the virus.
Monkeypox relies on prolonged close contact to spread, meaning it can be passed on during sex — although it is not classified as a sexually-transmitted infection.
It transmits via direct contact with infectious sores or scabs and through body fluids, like droplets from people’s mouths.
The LGBT Foundation – a Manchester-based charity – has urged people to choose sex positions that are not face-to-face to reduce physical contact.
It said: ‘Consider having sex in front of a mirror if you want to see your partner’s face whilst having intercourse.
‘Think about how you can reduce contact — perhaps now is the time to try out some clothed role-play or that glory hole fantasy.’
The majority of monkeypox cases in the fresh outbreak have been in gay and bisexual men and have been linked to raves, festivals and sex parties in Europe.
The LGBT Foundation said men should also consider masturbating more and cleaning fetish clothing and equipment to reduce the spread of the virus.
Gay men should try a ‘gloryhole fantasy’ or mutual masturbation instead of regular sex to limit the spread of monkeypox, the LGBT Foundation has urged. Pictured: The Gran Canarian pride festival, held between May 5 and 15 and attended by 80,000 people from Britain and across Europe, is being investigated after being linked to numerous monkeypox cases
Health chiefs in the UK are currently advising anyone with a new rash or blisters to avoid having sex until they get tested. Brits who test positive are told to wear a condom for eight weeks after they overcome the virus.
The World Health Organization has also urged people to their number of sexual partners.
Public health messaging has predominantly been aimed at gay and bisexual men, but experts warn monkeypox can be spread by anyone.
LGBT Foundation’s 10 ways to reduce infection risks during sex
- Limit the number of people you have sexual contact with and the number of times you have sex
- You should ensure you thoroughly wash both before and as soon as possible after, ensuring you don’t share towels
- Consider the surfaces that will be touched during the activity, consider using an easy to wipe surface or using a towel that can be thoroughly washed afterwards
- Consider less risky sexual activities such as mutual masturbation
- Continue to practice safer sex, whether it is through using condoms, PrEP, or both
- Some infections are passed on saliva or by skin to skin contact. To reduce this risk, avoid sexual activity that exchanges saliva such as kissing and spit play. Try to avoid oral sex, or reduce the risk by using barrier protection such as a condom, internal condom or dental dam for oral sex.
- Some infections can be passed on through faeces, including Shigella. For these infections, anal sex and in particular rimming increases your risk
- Choose a sexual position that isn’t face-to-face. Think about how you can reduce contact – perhaps now is the time to try out some clothed role-play or that glory hole fantasy
- If you do use sex toys, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned before and after use
- Limit the use of any fetish clothing or gear. Clean any gear thoroughly before and after use
It comes after another 11 cases of the virus were spotted in England on Tuesday, taking the UK’s total number to 190.
The LGBT Foundation published 10 recommendations for sexually active gay and bisexual men to limit their risk of catching or spreading monkeypox.
Its first guideline tells people ‘the fewer people, the better’ when it comes to sexual partners.
The charity also recommends people avoid having sex on dirty surfaces or use wipes to clean them before and after.
Masturbating together — rather than full penetrative sex — is advised because ‘activity with less close contact will reduce the risk of some infections’.
And people should continue to use condoms as a measure to lower the risk to themselves and partners, it said.
Sex toys should not be shared between partners and people should avoid kissing, the guidance says.
An almost identical list of reccomendations were published by the charity during the Covid pandemic to reduce the risk of passing on the killer virus during sex.
But the guidelines have now been updated to include ways of preventing flu and monkeypox.
The intro to the 10 recommendations reads: ‘Whether it’s Monkeypox, Flu, or Covid-19, close contact with sexual partners can increase your risk of contracting an infection.
‘Despite this risk, we understand that for some people sex is important and so below are some ideas on how to reduce the risk.’
UK Health Security Agency guidelines currently ask people to abstain from sex or close contact with others ‘until their lesions have healed and the scabs have dried off’.
Experts have previously linked the global monkeypox outbreak to sex at two festivals in Europe.
Dr David Heymann, who used to head the WHO’s emergencies department, said someone with the tell-tale monkeypox lesions likely ‘spread it to others when there was sexual or close physical contact’.
He said this may have happened at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium.
The Gran Canarian pride festival, held between May 5 and 15, is being investigated after being linked to numerous monkeypox cases.
And organisers of a large-scale fetish festival in Antwerp, which ran from May 5 to May 8, said there is ‘reason to assume’ someone at the event had monkeypox.
On its designated monkeypox information page, the LGBT Foundation says: ‘Monkeypox is spread through skin-to-skin or close contact, which means it can be passed on during sex, but it is not known to be sexually transmitted.
‘It can be passed on by touching bedding, towels, or clothes used by somebody with a rash caused by monkeypox, or rarely through coughs and sneezes of a person with monkeypox.
‘It is important that everyone is aware of monkeypox symptoms.
‘Even if your rash is not monkeypox, other infections such as herpes and syphilis can cause rashes which need treatment.
‘Rashes are common and most will not be caused by monkeypox, but may still require treatment. It is a good idea to speak to a medical professional if you have any new rash.’