Sex During A Global Pandemic: What Do The Experts Say?
We’re all social distancing right now. And that begs the question: how do you have sex in the era of COVID-19 self-isolation? Is it even safe to have sex during the pandemic?
According to several public health agencies, the answer really depends.
Let’s start off with the facts about Coronavirus and sex.
Coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, is spread by direct person-to-person contact or by people who are close to (within six feet) each other—as it’s believed that the virus is expelled in respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can also pick it up from contaminated surfaces if you then touch your face without washing your hands properly first and therefore introduce the pathogen into your body.
So, yes, sex can contribute to spreading the coronavirus. You’re clearly close enough to someone when you’re naked on top of each other, and you are also probably kissing, or at least breathing heavily. (
But let’s be clear: Covid-19 is not contracted directly from sex – it’s not an STI. That distinction matters, because safe sex during the pandemic depends on your current relationship situation and, well, why you’re having sex in the first place.
So what are some best practices according to experts? Start with some self-love.
Since the start of the pandemic, online sales of sex toys have skyrocketed. So you can take solace in the fact that you’re definitely not the only one enjoying a bit of self-pleasure.
According to EDC Retail, which calls itself Europe’s market leader in erotic toys, the sales of vibrators, dildos and other sex toys were 162 percent higher than in the same period last year. In fact, sales have been so strong that the supply of toys and accessories from factories in China threatened to dry up – leaving consumers high and dry. EDC Retail even warned of a possible shortage of sex toys in February.
Masturbation also ensures that you’ll be safe from contracting the virus as you’re following social distancing guidelines.
Some public health agencies have even suggested making sex a little more ‘kinky’ to make it safer.
Most public health agencies have released safe sex guidelines for the pandemic. In fact, just this week, “glory holes” was trending in Canada because the BC Centre for Disease Control listed it among the tips for safer sex during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their guidelines say to “choose sexual positions that limit face-to-face contact. Use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes) that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.”
And “glory holes” aren’t only recommended in British Columbia. In New York, health officials suggest to make sex “a little kinky.” The city’s public health agency suggests getting “creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.”
Folks on social media are having a field day tweeting creative ways to use walls and barriers, even suggesting things like plexiglas shields (like those in grocery stores), holes in sheets, mail slots, doggy doors and donuts.
But if glory holes sound a little too raunchy for you, don’t worry, experts also recommend sexual positions that limit face-to-face contact, such as as doggy style.
And if you’re single or dating – you should definitely not be having sex right now.
Because of social distancing and state-mandated shelter-in-place guidelines, it’s not okay to go out on dates right now—unless those dates are over FaceTime or some other video chat app.
The New York City Health Department recently issued guidelines on Covid-19 safe sex practices, recommending against having sex with anyone outside of your household. (In other words, someone you already live with.)
And sorry but having a “quarantine sex buddy,” where you and they only have sex with each other during the pandemic, is not recommended, First of all, the idea goes against social distancing, and you don’t actually know how closely (if at all) they’re staying away from other people.
Or maybe, like so many others, you’re just not having much sex these days – and that’s totally normal.
According to an NBC News poll of roughly 11,000 people, at least 50% said that the coronavirus has negatively impacted their love life. That’s a lot of people not dating, not being intimate with others, and most likely not having sex.
According to Ian Kerner, PhD, a psychotherapist and sex counselor, “A lot of people in quarantine aren’t feeling their best, or feeling as sexy. If you’re home all day and you’re not changing out of your pajamas or applying as much self-care or going to the gym, your sexual self-esteem can start to go down.”
But that’s OK. You’re not the only person feeling this way. Between being stuck in tiny apartments or around family, working longer hours and feeling the mental and financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic, on top of anti-racism uprisings, our libidos have had way more lows than highs.
But if you do decide to engage in sexual activity, make sure you follow these expert tips on how to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19 along with following all other safer sex practices.
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