‘Safer’ Sex Is Different in the Time of COVID-19—Here’s What You Need to Know

Photo: Getty Images/Pekic
Now that we're all spending all of our time hunkering down at home with canned goods, video games, and our own existential crises, there's more opportunity than ever before to get it on. Before you get down to all the naked cardio, though, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says that there a few things you really need to know about sex and COVID-19. From casual hookups to live-in partners to masturbation, healthy pleasure looks just a little different now (but it can still be fun).

Sex and COVID-19: How to stay safe according to the New York City Department of Health

Starting off on a very obvious (yet vital) note, the NYC Department of Health says that having sex with someone who is infected with COVID-19—due to the swapping of saliva or mucus, or the possibility of coughing or sneezing while in the throes of passion—is dangerous. So far, COVID-19 has been found in the fecal matter of patients but hasn't yet been identified in vaginal fluid or semen. "We know that other coronaviruses do not efficiently transmit through sex," says the department. Still, a few safety measures are in order.

How to choose a sexual partner

  1. Masturbation just so happens to be the safest form of sex, so love on yourself: "You are your safest sex partner," says the NYC Department of Health. "Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex." Ash Spivak, cofounder of Allbodies, recommends using this time to explore what turns you on through erotica. "Watching erotic films like Erika Lust's can be very helpful for this as her films are created based off of her community's real fantasies. There are lots of different bodies and scenarios to choose from. Watch a few different ones. As you watch, tune in to your body. What imagery makes you feel tingly and turned on? Why? Which does not. Why? Take what you learn from your bodies' cues and then you can start applying it with yourself or with your partner IRL," she says.
  2. Second best is sex with someone you live with: Your significant other is also a good choice, so long as both of you are willing to accept the risk of giving it to one another. You can also try partner masturbation, says Ash. "Play around with what it feels likes to look at each in the eyes as you play, move at the same speed, move at different speeds, match your breath so that you are breathing together," she says. "It may not be possible to climax at the same time, but see if each of you can slow down when you feel like you're about to peak so that the other can get there with you."
  3. Put your IRL hookups on the back-burner for now: "If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you," says the website.
  4. Do I even need to say to skip sex if you're feeling sick? I will anyway: "If you start to feel unwell, you may be about to develop symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath," says the NYC Department of Health. This is especially true if your partner has a medical condition that has left them immunocompromised.

How to enage in safer sex

  1. Only kiss people you already live with: Because, saliva. This is not the time to lock lips with strangers.
  2. Avoid rimming: The virus could enter your mouth if you and your partner decide to practice rimming.
  3. Use condoms and dental dams, especially during oral or anal sex: Again... because of saliva and feces.
  4. Wash yourself and any items involved in the sexual experience: Wash your hands. Disinfect your sex toys, bed sheets, countertops, etc.

Don't slack off on your usual safer sex practices

The NYC Department of Health's final note is that you should continue to adhere to the same safer sex measures you would usually would: Use condoms to protect against STIs and keep up with your birth control method of choice. Oh, and to test your sex knowledge, take Allbodies online safety quiz to make sure you're caring for all your sexual partners—including yourself.

Do you know your sex personality type? If not, it might just help you majorly boost those good feelings of intimacy

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