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SAFE SEX DURING A PANDEMIC
COVID 19 is incredibly contagious, so now is the time to try intimacy from a distance and master the art of solo play. According to experts, you are your own safest sex partner.
Based on the latest social distancing guidelines and other continually changing factors, you may need to adjust sexual activities to stay safe to minimize risk. Intimacy is part of the human experience, but you are your own safest sex partner, now more than ever.
In the best of times, sex can be complicated, but in a pandemic, even more so. During mandatory social distancing and mask wearing, accompanied by excessive hand washing, acts of intimacy come with their own set of new rules, too. These new guidelines regarding your sex life aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, since no one actually knows when the pandemic will officially come to an end. Even after cities reopen, the novel coronavirus will still be circulating.
In some lower income countries, COVID 19 won’t peak until six months after wealthier nations experience their peaks, which could create a boomerang effect that sparks new outbreaks in countries thought to be over the worst of it. As experts learn more about the novel coronavirus, the advice they give may change. Here’s what we know now.
Not only is sex a great workout, safe and consensual sex can help us feel relaxed, ease anxiety and tension in the body, act as a natural sleep aid, and cause the brain to release hormones including endorphins (the body’s natural uppers) and oxytocin (the so-called love hormone). That chemical is what makes us desire cuddling even after sex, and this flood of hormones can also create a bond that triggers feelings of safety. Any physical connection, especially a 20-second hug or a lingering kiss that lasts around 10 seconds can also release those same feel-good chemicals. During these stressful and uncertain times, we could all benefit from mood-boosting experiences.
Who’s a Safe Sex Partner During the Pandemic?
Because the novel coronavirus is so new, scientists are still working to understand more about exactly how it spreads. Researchers have found that the novel coronavirus may be detectable in semen of men with the disease. Additional research is needed to see if COVID 19 may be transmitted sexually, however, more-substantial studies have determined that the virus that causes COVID 19 is definitely spread through other bodily fluids.
A study in May 2020 determined that the virus is detectable in fecal matter, in some cases even when respiratory tests were negative, and can be transmitted to an uninfected person through the mouth, so depending on your beneath-the-sheets habits, this could be an issue.
The main risk factor is that COVID 19 is highly contagious through the saliva and mucus of an infected person, and sex traditionally requires people to be within six feet of each other. Being in the same room as an infected person significantly increases the likelihood that the virus will jump from one person to another, even without touching each other.
As with sexually transmitted infection, sex with a new partner always brings with it some amount of risk. The best we can do in such circumstances is to assess this risk honestly and make an informed decision.
Practically speaking, though, a partner with whom you live or with whom you have been coisolating is probably the safest person to have sex with for the time being. As for essential workers, it’s difficult to provide blanket guidelines, since different essential workers, which include doctors and grocery store staff, are exposed to different levels of risk. If you or your partner is worried that they may have been exposed to COVID 19, it’s a good idea to keep your distance as much as possible for the following two weeks until you can be sure they do not develop symptoms.
Asking cohabitating couples to abstain from sex for months on end may not be a sustainable disease control method. Generally, the same basic household rules apply: Thoroughly wash hands during work as well as upon returning home, frequently disinfect surfaces and objects like your phone and keys, closely monitor symptoms, and create a preparedness plan that includes isolating an infected person as much as the home permits or as long as they are suspected to have COVID 19. If you’re using your computer or phone before or during sex, make sure that’s disinfected as well.
Connecting From a Distance — What if You Live Apart?
If you’re in the throes of a safe and healthy budding relationship, is it okay to be intimate with your new partner if you aren’t living together? The short answer is no. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still build a relationship while being responsible. Relationships aren’t solely physical or sexual, and even in a new relationship, there is an opportunity to build on developing trust, intimacy, and authenticity using digital technology.
Experts recommend that distanced couples watch a movie, eat dinner, or even exercise together through video calls. Many relationships are regularly long distance, and in those situations, people don’t have physical access to their partner. It’s time to apply some of those dating techniques. Your sex life can go virtual, too; just make sure that you trust that it will stay between you and your partners.
You Are Your Own Safest Sex Partner
Especially for people isolating without a partner, this is a great time to explore self-stimulation and gain a better understanding of what your body likes. If you’ve never used a device before, now is a great time to try one; think of vibrators for masturbationas you would gym equipment for your workout. Make sure you wash and disinfect any toys or electronics that you use during your session. Not only can COVID 19 live on surfaces for hours or even days, you also run the risk of spreading bacteria and fungi to your intimate parts.
Domestic and Sexual Abuse
The same rules as before concerning consent and abuse apply to sex during quarantine. Forcing someone to perform a sexual act is never permissible and is abuse, just as physical and emotional abuse are. Any relationship that is abusive is dangerous and unhealthy but particularly in these times when people may have to self-isolate with their abusive partner.
COVID 19 has made already complicated physical and emotional safety plans more challenging. NWC Helpline 1145.