Creating your best sex life while staying safe
COVID-19 is the global pandemic that nobody was expecting and definitely not too many people were prepared for.
Although there have been some major adjustments to ‘normal’ life for some, others haven’t felt the impact nearly as much. Either way, it’s more than likely that your sex life has been affected.
I would suggest that prior to the pandemic, we were less cautious when it came to a partner with a runny nose or a slight cough – the priority was sex, maybe even dressed up in a sexy costume!
Nowadays, we are more cautious and our personal health and hygiene has become the priority for many.
Early on, when we were first introduced to the concept of ‘lockdown’, increased social distancing and improved hygiene precautions, there was an ongoing joke between sexologists and therapists that the next item to fly off the supermarket shelves, in the same fashion as toilet paper, would be condoms.
And if for some reason we were not experiencing a global shortage of condoms, then we were bound to experience a global baby boom within 10 months of lockdown.
The way I see it, there are two potential scenarios: either you are in a relationship or you aren’t. Yes, you could argue that there are many more scenarios, however, for the sake of argument and to keep this read interesting, let’s stick with these two.
COVID-19 tips for couples
COVID-19 resulted in many couples typically being together for more hours throughout the day. This may be because of partners working from home or spending more time in lockdown.
More time together as a couple, then created two outcomes: on the one hand, the negative aspect of increased arguments and relationship dissatisfaction (a great excuse to invest in personal pleasure toys), and on the other hand, the positive aspect of increased communication and relationship satisfaction (a great excuse to invest in some couples’ toys).
One thing is for sure, the amount of sex couples were having went up globally (1).
COVID-19 tips for singles
For those in the ‘singles’ category, the concept of randomly hooking up with people through whichever dating and/or hook-up app that is the flavour of the week or meeting people at the local pub and having casual sex, just became very difficult, if not impossible to accomplish for many.
For example, the New York City Government released a document that stated “you are your safest partner”, and as much as we know that this is true and that it is pointing to masturbation and self-pleasure, what exactly were they proposing?
Maybe erotic stories, masturbating with or without a fun toy?
The main suggestion was to be isolated and avoid spreading the virus to others. But really? As a sexologist, I believe it’s an opportunity to start exploring your options, whether you’re coupled or single.
Can we kiss and touch each other?
Although there is no solid evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted via genital and anal contact, it can be passed on via kissing and physical touching, which are common practices during sexual activity.
COVID-19 can be passed on via kissing and physical touching
It’s a timely reminder that people can be asymptomatic carriers, which means that they do not display any symptoms of the virus but can be contagious.
Sex and relationships in pandemic times have gained much media attention, including suggestions on how to limit contamination risks during sexual activity by using sex toys, webcam and phone sex, and mutual masturbation, for example.
Even official authorities, such as the New York City government (3) and the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (4), have proposed that partners explore sexual activities without direct physical contact, with masturbation being the safest option.
But if you are having sex with someone, play it safe and make sure that neither of you has symptoms of the virus.
Make sure that neither of you has symptoms of the virus
Even though I won’t be suggesting remaining 1.5 metres away from your sexual partner at all times, I will recommend a few things. If there’s a risk that either of you has COVID-19 then consider wearing approved masks that cover your mouth and nose, while practicing safe hygienic routines before, during and after any form of sexual intercourse.
You should also avoid direct contact with saliva (spit) or mucus – so yes, avoid kissing.
Can we use sex toys?
One of the safest ways to enjoy sexual activity, not only during the pandemic but in the new ‘COVID normal’, is with sex toys.
- enhanced sexual pleasure
- improved sleep quality
- reduced stress
- improved immune system function
- pain relief.
There are a number of sexual problems in both men and women that may also be helped by using specific sex toys.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, so don’t be hesitant to purchase a sex toy (or seven – a different one for each day of the week), to reap health and wellness benefits. Of course, if you intend to use sex toys to assist with particular conditions, seek individual advice from a sex coach or sexologist.
Your improved ‘COVID normal’ sex life
Regardless if you are in a relationship or single during or after COVID-19, here are my recommendations for how to approach, maintain and potentially even improve your sex life.
Be kind to yourself. It is okay to not be feeling your most sexy and sexual, but don’t forget that sex is a great stress reliever and if you’ve found yourself with more time on your hands, why not try out a sexual position you’ve always been meaning to explore? Better yet, add a new sex toy to your collection.
Focus on the meaning of sex and the important role that sex plays in your life. Consider what sexual intimacy and physical touch mean to you, so that when you do have your next sexual encounter, you are ready to express yourself in the most sexually positive way.
Whatever stage of the COVID journey you are in, stay safe and stay pleasured as often as possible.
(1) Norton, A 2020, ‘Survey shows how couples cope during lockdown’, WebMD, 11 June, viewed 8 December 2020, www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200611/survey-shows-how-couples-cope-during-lockdown#1
(2) NYC Health Department 2020, Safer sex and COVID-19, 6 August, viewed 8 December 2020, www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/covid-sex-guidance.pdf?utm_source=morning_brew
(4) Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine 2020, Harm reduction approaches to casual sex during the COVID-19 pandemic, 22 June, viewed 8 December 2020, ashm.org.au/covid-19/clinical-care/harm-minimisation-approaches-to-casual-sex