Sex during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Sex during the Covid-19 pandemic? Dr. Elesha gives us the low down on what we should and shouldn't be doing during the lockdown - all things sex.
Before everything went into lockdown, I went on a girl’s holiday. One night as all five of us had a group spoon in a super queen bed; we started watching a film called “Love in the time of Cholera”. It was frankly terrible but also represented something I never thought would be an issue – intimacy during a pandemic. Whilst I am not thinking about love and cholera, I am thinking about sex and corona… a lot. Maybe not enough to accept the advances of the Medical Registrar inviting me into his isolation pod, but give it a week until the fatigue that a bout of suspected Covid-19 has given me, I may give in. So how with social distancing do we keep safe during sex?
Being trapped, whether this is your reality or more of a metaphorical sensation, can leave us feeling bored, anxious and irritable. Sex is often used as a release by many. It can soothe these sensations of restlessness and the explosive hormone release acts as a mood boost. This need to feel better could lead to us making unbalanced decisions whereby we don’t accurately weigh up risks to ourselves as the perceived benefits of human contact seem so much greater. This has implications for our personal health (both general and sexual health) and public health. When we are in a time when it is difficult to access GP care and nearly all sexual health clinics are shut, this is not the ideal time to need an urgent check-up.
Can you get coronavirus from having sex?
As always, a quick physiology lesson from me. What we know as coronavirus, Covid-19 or the ‘Rona is caused by the Sars-CoV-2 virus. This virus spreads through body fluids. It has been found most predominantly in saliva, mucus (think nose and lungs) and faeces. It is believed to exist in faeces for many weeks after someone has got over the infection, though we don’t know how long this remains infectious for. We have not found any evidence that it is found in semen or vaginal fluids. Whilst we don’t know a lot about the transmission nature of the virus, we know that other viruses in the coronavirus family do not spread well through sexual contact. Now for the important part, what can I do about having sex during the coronavirus pandemic?
With social distancing measures and disease transmission, the safest sex during the coronavirus pandemic you can have is with yourself. Solo-sex comes with a multitude of health benefits and with plenty of time on our hands, it’s perfect timing to tune in to your own pleasure. To avoid becoming unwell, it’s important to wash your hands and toys with soap and water before and after use. This should be for at least 20 seconds, so sing Happy Birthday and think of Boris. If you need to feel someone else, the next best option is to have sex with someone within your household. If that doesn’t work either, then it’s crucial that you have as few sexual partners as possible and to avoid group sex. If we all sit tight with legs crossed for the next few months, then we will be free to gallivant wholeheartedly much sooner.
What about partnered sex?
There are a few steps to make partnered sex during the coronavirus pandemic as safe as possible during the pandemic. Try to avoid kissing as saliva to saliva often results in transmission. The other very risky sex act is rimming due to Covid-19 being present in both saliva and faeces. A dam would reduce the chances of transmission, much like any other infection. Condoms are also protective against the infection, particularly during anal sex. Make sure you have a shower before and after sex. It also advisable to wash the sheets, towels and disinfect surfaces which have been touched during partnered sex. There are times that you should really skip partnered sex altogether. This includes if you or your partner has confirmed or suspected Covid-19. This means if either of you is displaying any of the symptoms listed on the NHS/WHO/CDC website, then really don’t do it. It’s also important to avoid sex if your or your partner has medical conditions which could make you more prone to a more severe Covid-19 infection. Don’t forget the risk of HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancy still exists as strongly as ever.
For those of us who are dating or those who sex work, we have lost the ability of face to face contact with potential partners and clients. There has been a shift over to video dating, with many dating apps going as far as buying video platforms to give their patrons an almost authentic date experience. Sexing can also go so far into getting over the heat, especially if you bring teledildonics into this. For those who don’t know, teledildonics are sex toys which can be remotely accessed and controlled. Investing in one these toys, such as the We-Vibe toys, can give you something more resembling mutual partnered sex.
Stay at Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.
I wanted to leave a note for those living with HIV. We don’t know the exact risks at present, but if you have a low CD4 count or aren’t on antiretroviral treatment, you are more likely to get unwell. It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, ensuring a balanced diet, plenty of sleep, regular exercise and good adherence to medication. Try to get a longer supply of your regular medications so you don’t have to keep leaving the house. Make sure you stay well connected with those around you via phone calls and social media and try to limit face to face contact.
As somebody who works on the frontline of the NHS every day, I want to say thank you for everything you’re doing to protect others. Staying at home is the worst but you are probably doing more to save lives than I am.
About the Author
Written by Dr Elesha Vooght, Sexual Wellness Doctor at Kandid
Dr Elesha Vooght is the sexual wellness doctor at Kandid. By day (or night), Dr Elesha is an NHS junior doctor with her clinical experience spanning from gynaecology and urology to psychiatry and public health. Pleasure and its role in health is her passion in all areas of her practice.
Follow Dr Elesha on Instagram @dr.elesha