UK woman with 'coronaphobia' uses masks, gloves, disinfectant during sex

man women kissing wearing masks
She's swapping wine and candles for masks, gloves and disinfectant. Photo credit: Getty.

The uncertainty and fear during the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many of us choosing to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) when out and about, whether heading to the supermarket, mall or beauty salon. 

But one UK woman says her fear of catching the virus is so great, she and her partner now only have sex wearing PPE - and even that's after one intense hygiene regime. 

It's a symptom of what Melanie Jennings calls 'coronaphoboia'.

The nursing assistant tells The Sun she's had an obsessive-compulsive fear of germs and illness since she was a child. The widespread panic and suffering caused by coronavirus has intensified these fears, as well as her career working in a hospital. 

She says she became increasingly cautious with her own hygiene and safety practices, until "in the first week of April [my partner] Joe went to kiss me and I froze".

"Suddenly the thought of sex without the protection of masks and gloves, disinfected sheets and a clean room was horrifying."

Jennings says now before she and her partner have sex, "the bed is sprayed with mattress sanitiser and fresh new sheets which have been washed and disinfected twice are put on".

"Then I disinfect the bathroom ensuring every surface is operating theatre clean."

Jennings says "the smell of bleach and hospital-strength cleaner permeates the entire house" while the pair make love, each wearing gloves and face masks.  

"I cannot even think about sex unless we both shower, use hand sanitiser, specialist disinfectant body wash and disinfected towels before. In total I have spent £1750 (NZD$3379) on items." 

While Jennings' intense cleaning regime may be an extreme example, health officials across the globe are warning couples to take extra precautions while having sex.

The New York City Department of Health made headlines with their two-page memo which offered tips for how to enjoy sex and to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

"Make it a little kinky," the department advised, recommending positions facing away from each other and physical barriers between bodies. 

Researchers at Harvard University also published a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine recommending couples wear face masks during sex.