5 Rules for Safer Sex During COVID
Mask on, pants off? Understand the facts to make the right choice.
The global pandemic has severely limited our ability to have safe sexual contact, for those that are not in well-defined live-in relationships. In a time when fear and stress are at a new high and intimate connection could provide comfort, the risks introduce even more fear.
Many of us are holed up and horny, not sure when we’ll touch another human again.
When I am going through a breakup, human contact helps me to feel better about life. It feels like we are going through a collective breakup with our pre-COVID ways of living, and adjusting to a new normal is difficult, to say the least. Many of us are holed up and horny, not sure when we’ll touch another human again.
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Advice from governments and public health policy officials about how to deal with this dilemma ranges from Victorian to explicit.
The British Columbia Center for Disease Control suggests that its residents should use barriers like glory holes, to allow for sexual, but not face to face contact. For those that don’t know, a glory hole is a wall or partition that includes a hole that people can put their genitals through to get pleasured. If glory holes aren’t your thing, BC also suggests using positions that limit face to face contact, such as doggy style. I suppose the BC version of ultra-safety, would be doing doggy style through a glory hole.
One suggestion: Use barriers like glory holes, to allow for sexual, but not face to face contact.
NYC Health, on the other hand, asserts that you are your safest sexual partner, advocating for masturbation as the safest form of sex during the pandemic. This is followed closely by having sex with somebody you live with, which really only works if you happen to actually have that cute roommate that you have been low-key into since they moved in.
Dutch Public Health, on the other hand, advocates for singles who are on lock-down to find a “sex buddy,” understanding that humans need intimacy and connection, but postulating that finding one sex buddy to bring into your bubble is fairly low risk.
Part of the reason that the government’s lack consistency in their advice is because COVID-19 is still fairly new and there are still many unknowns regarding sexual risk.
For those who prefer to make their own rules, what are the facts?
What we do know is that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, meaning that direct contact with saliva, like what would be produced during a makeout sesh, would easily spread the virus. There currently isn’t any evidence that you can get COVID through semen or vaginal fluids, however this hasn’t been studied enough to have conclusive evidence. There is some research showing that COVID-19 has been found in feces of those with the virus, so it looks like rimming or other forms of non-protected anal play is particularly high risk.
So, can you have safe sex during the pandemic? Here are five steps to help you build a new normal for your safe sex style.
1. Remote Sex
The safest way to connect right now is through non-physical contact. For example, now is a great time to get a new sex toy and experiment with self-pleasure in novel and exciting ways.
It is also a good time to step up your online sex game. Talk dirty to some strangers online, or talk to a partner that you can’t physically see and share details about exactly what you want to do to them. Maybe even video chat or take some sexy pictures. This is the safest option.
2. Get Tested
If you are considering bringing someone new into your circle (to fuck, cuddle or kiss) there is always some degree of risk, but there are some ways to do it as safely as possible.
For example, before bringing someone into your circle, you can both get a COVID-19 test. Remember, a lot of folks may be infected with the virus but not have symptoms, so getting a test before getting down is the safest move, even if neither person is showing symptoms.
Getting a test before getting down is the safest move, even if neither person is showing symptoms
Also discuss with your potential partner what precautions they are taking regarding the virus. Do they wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer with them? Or are they one of those Karen’s who refuses to wear a mask indoors? Also, do they have other people that they see in close quarters that don’t wear a mask?
Just like with STI protection, everyone that your new partner has had close contact with carries with them an additional risk to you, so discussing their level of safety before you hookup is essential.
Develop COVID-19 communication rules. For example, if either party is feeling the slightest bit sick before meeting up, that needs to be expressed.
Also, if your partner is getting close with anyone new or engaging in any high risk activities, you can make a rule that you discuss it. Perhaps, if your sex buddy does something high risk they can wait fourteen days to see you or get another COVID-19 test.
4. Balanced Risk
It makes sense to find a partner that is a similar level of risk as you are. Generally, someone low risk is overall healthy, younger and taking all the necessary precautions. It is possible that bringing a new partner into your circle could be fairly low risk if you are both socially isolating at home, wearing masks and social distancing when you go outside. Simply ensure that you are both on the same page on this!
5. Wear Masks
Say you don’t want to bring just one new partner in, but feel that you need to have multiple sexual encounters. This is the most high risk, however as with everything, there are risk reduction techniques.
For example, a recent study from Harvard suggests that the safest way to have casual sex during COVID-19 is to shower before sex, wipe down where you are having sex with alcohol wipes, use protection and keep your mask on during sex.
I know for myself that I couldn’t enjoy sex without being able to kiss my partner and look at their face. However, I would never yuck anybodies yum, and following these precautions is certainly the safest way to have casual sex during the pandemic.
After engaging in a high risk activity, the safest move would be to socially isolate as much as possible for the next two weeks and then get a COVID-19 test.
What is most important is that you communicate to potential partners about the risks you are taking so that you can both make an informed decision
Just like with sexual health in general, everybody has to make their own choice regarding what level of risk they are comfortable with. Part of this may have to do with your own personal health. If you or anyone close to you is immunocompromised, or if you have people in your bubble who are older or may be at a higher risk, it makes sense to be particularly safe. What is most important is that you communicate to potential partners about the risks you are taking so that you can both make an informed decision about how to best proceed.
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COVID-19 is particularly complex because it spreads so easily. The choices you make may impact everybody that you come in contact with from your family members to someone you pass at the grocery store. I believe we all have a duty to do what we can to lower the spread and stay as safe as possible. I am not one to tell anyone what to do, but now is a time to balance your need for connection and sexual satisfaction, with that of keeping the community safe.