In the best of times, sex can be complicated, but in a pandemic, even more so. With mandatory social distancing and mask wearing, accompanied by excessive hand washing, acts of intimacy come with their own set of new rules, too.
During that time, health officials in New York CityWashington DCand elsewhere released guidelines on how to have safe sex during the pandemic. Although widespread vaccination is under way, these new guidelines regarding safe sex are unlikely to go away anytime soon, since no one actually knows when the pandemic will officially come to an end.
Frequently asked questions
As experts continue to learn more about the novel coronavirus and its variants, the advice they give may change. A survey conducted during the early stages of the pandemic, published in June in the journal Leisure Sciencesfound that nearly half of online survey participants reported a decline in how much sex they were having compared with their prepandemic sex lives. Chavez, adding that this flood of hormones can also create a bond that triggers feelings of safety.
During these stressful and uncertain times, we could all benefit from mood-boosting experiences, she notes. According to Dr. Flowers, an important part of having sex during the pandemic is making sure you and your partners are on the samejust as you would while forming a COVID pod.
Scientists are still working to understand a lot about how the original strains of the coronavirus spread, but new variants of SARS -CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, are now spreading across the worldincluding in the United States.
This complicates things a bit. According to Tara Smith, PhDa professor of epidemiology at Kent State University in Ohio, scientists are still working to understand exactly how the new variants behave. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDCthe new variants appear to spread faster and easier than the original strains.
This means understanding the ways in which it can be spread. The main risk factor is that COVID 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.
How to have safe and satisfying sex during the covid pandemic
Being in the same room as an infected person ificantly increases the likelihood that the virus will jump from one person to another, even without touching each other, especially if one person is carrying a mutated form of the virus. In addition, a study published in May in the journal Gastroenterology 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.
A more recent small retrospective study, published in January in the Journal of Medical Virologyfound that in people who had severe cases of COVID, viral RNA could be detected in the fecal matter of some up to 46 days after they were exposed to the virus. Depending on your beneath-the-sheets habits, this could be an issue. A study published July in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that the coronavirus does not appear to be present in vaginal fluid and several studies have found no presence of the virus in semen of recovered people.
How to practice safe sex during the pandemic
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 for as long as they are suspected to have COVID, says Kumi Smith. A study published in January in the journal Science found that people can have antibodies up to eight months after recovering from the coronavirus.
However, studies, such as one published in July in Science Dailyhave suggested that timeframe is much shorter, and that antibodies fall dramatically after three months. Levkoff recommends that distanced couples watch a movie, eat dinner, or even exercise together through video calls. Your sex life can go virtual, too; just make sure that you trust that it will stay between you and your partners. 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, Chavez says.
In fact, sex toy sales, especially vibrators, skyrocketed during stay-at-home orders, according to a report published in April in AdWeek. Make sure you wash and disinfect any toys or electronics that you use during your session. Not only can COVID live on surfaces for hours or even days, you also run the risk of spreading bacteria and fungi to your intimate parts.
Flowers also recommends taking this time to brush up on fertility and sex education, especially since less than half of the states in the United States require sex education in schools, according to Planned Parenthood.
Lexx the Sex Doc for people seeking credible online resources for sex education or reeducation. Although some data has shown that the of sexually transmitted diseases being diagnosed dipped during stay-at-home orders, Flowers suspects this is due to fewer people getting tested due to restricted access to in-person healthcarerather than a ificantly smaller of people actually contracting STDs. A survey published in October by the National Coalition of STD Directors found that 80 percent of sexual health screening clinics had to either reduce their hours or remain closed for an extended amount of time during the pandemic.
The survey also highlights the innovation of telehealth during the pandemic and at home self-collection testing as an alternative to in-person STD testing. What do closed clinics mean for access to emergency contraception?
People who are having sex may also want to be aware of how access to abortion may have changed in their state. In July, a judge in Maryland lifted the requirements during the pandemic, allowing doctors to prescribe abortion medication via telehealth without seeing patients in person.
When to consider avoiding sex
But on January 11,the U. Supreme Court reversed a ruling that temporarily legalized mail-order and telemedicine abortions during the pandemic, requiring women to be seen in-person to receive abortion medication. During normal times, the U. However, the new administration has plans to reverse many of the current access barriers, including cost, related to abortion. So, these regulations may change again during the pandemic. If you find yourself pregnant during the pandemic, do not delay getting prenatal care. Department of Health and Human Services.
You are here
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. According to Levkoff, domestic violence hotlines are seeing a ificant rise in calls, and while shelters and resources are available, COVID has made already complicated physical and emotional safety plans more challenging.
Safe Horizonthe largest victim services nonprofit organization in the United States, is offering self-quarantine options in their shelters for people who have COVID symptoms and who have to or choose to leave their homes.
Advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline are available 24 hours a day at Health Topics. Health Tools. Coronavirus: Must-Know Info. Reviewed: February 11, Medically Reviewed. Your Sex Life and Healthy Sexual Activity Remain Critically Important A survey conducted during the early stages of the pandemic, published in June in the journal Leisure Sciencesfound that nearly half of online survey participants reported a decline in how much sex they were having compared with their prepandemic sex lives.