COVID-19 has put a temporary hiatus to dating and hookup culture. Trips to restaurants and midnight hookups have been replaced with endless scrolling on TikTok, reading and social media challenges.
Aside from those who live with their partner, it is doubtful many of us will be getting lucky for a while, and with very little known about COVID-19 I decided to investigate the current state of sex by answering three of the most dominant questions we have right now.
1. Will there be a baby boom?
Many people have joked and even predicted that in 9 months we will have a baby boom. After all, with everyone home, what else is there to do? However, the myth of “blackout babies” has long been disproven time due to many reasons, e.g. heightened anxiety, stress and being home with children putting a temporary shutdown on intimacy.
Also, while experiments have shown that “excitement” of fear of death does increase people’s interest in sex, this phenomenon is only ever observed towards strangers, and not existing sexual partners.
Nevertheless, some of these individuals theorise we may see a slight (2%) increase using previous evidence. However, professor and family studies expert Stephanie Coontz believes the opposite will occur, stating,
“Yes, there have been baby booms during times of enforced togetherness at home, but on the other hand, people tend to postpone kids when they are insecure about the future. Birth rates generally fall during recessions and depression. Since this pandemic is causing serious and likely long-lasting economic hardship, I don’t expect many people to try for a child.”
Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, reiterated these findings, stating in Will coronavirus cause a baby boom, or is that just a myth? Prepare for jokes, if not babies!:
“Lots of babies are born to couples not living together, who presumably (because of social distancing) are less likely to have sex and children now. So even if a few people accidentally or on purpose decide to have a baby now, they will probably be outnumbered by the lost births from people meeting less, having sex with non-residential partners less and deciding now is not a good time.”
So, due to lockdown procedures putting a temporary end to hookup culture, the likelihood of a baby-boom is very slim, but time will tell.
Nevertheless, what about the present? People may not be trying to get pregnant, but they will want to have sex at some point — we are human after all. So I looked into the rules and guidelines.
2. What constitutes as ‘safe sex’ during lockdown?
The meaning of “safe sex” has changed. Previously when discussed, it would refer to protection against unwanted pregnancies and STDs; however, with COVID-19, the need for safety has increased.
The CDC has recommended everyone maintains a 2-meter distance from others; everyone should also stay away from crowded places and not gather in groups. This is because COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that is spread through respiratory droplets (and possibly faecal matter).
To be clear, it is not a sexually transmitted disease. However, you can get it from having sex due to your proximity to those involved. For those who live with their partner, the likelihood of you both catching the virus from each other is already high, so having sex is ok. However, for those of us not, it’s more complicated.
The act of travelling to each other not only puts yourself at risk but other people. It doesn’t even matter if the person isn’t presenting symptoms either as data has shown that some people are asymptomatic carriers of the virus (they are infectious even though they present no symptoms).
So to be safe, unless you live with your partner, it is best to stick to phone sex, FaceTime and porn. As of now, sex toys aren’t likely to be a method of transmission. Many sex toy brands have reported sale increases of up to 40%!
This is not only the best way to keep yourself safe but everyone you may come in contact with. I hate to be that guy, but in this case, abstinence is actually best.
Some other tips include, only kissing people in your household, sticking to masturbation, washing up before and after sex and using condoms and dental dams to reduce contact with saliva or faeces.
Nevertheless, just because the focus is on COVID-19 doesn’t mean all the other STDs have gone into hiding so still ensure you use protection.
3. Can you have sex with someone who has recovered from COVID-19?
People have discussed the prospect of having a ‘COVID sex-buddy’ however according to doctors this is inadvisable for various reasons (risk from transportation to and fro households and limited data on viral immunity after testing positive for the virus).
Not to mention, with tests in short supply, it’s impossible to know for sure whether someone has had the infection previously or whether they suffered from something else that presented with similar symptoms.
Not to mention, COVID-19 is a novel virus (meaning it has never been seen before) so data is limited and very little is known about immunity — some patients have even re-tested as positive after being released from quarantine — so it’s best to play on the safe side and not risk it until definitive conclusions have been made.
Sex has changed, and no one is sure for how long which is why everyone must play it safe for the time being. Not only will this decrease the time we spend under lockdown, but it is the only way to stay safe while there are more questions vs answers.
Currently, the safest sex you can have is with yourself followed by a live-in partner — which has undoubtedly made things for us single people a little harder. However, though it doesn’t seem like it, it is possible to foster deep and meaningful connections during this time — we have to get creative.