Whew, y'all. 2020 has seemed like the longest, not year but decade ever, and we're only in the month of July. And definitely, if there's one thing that has made the mark of all marks on us, it's the coronavirus—a pandemic that has infected 11 million people worldwide and counting. When you really stop to think about it, COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives, but if there's one area that I don't think is discussed enough, it's sex. When a virus is so powerful that you need to stay six feet away with a mask on in order to decrease your chances of contracting it, how do you get physically intimate with someone without upping the ante on putting your health in danger?
Discoveries about COVID-19 are happening on an almost daily basis. For now, as it specifically relates to it and your sex life, here are eight ways to make practicing safe sex, in the time of this pandemic, so much easier for you and yours to do.
1. GET. TESTED. FIRST.
Here's something that's pretty disturbing. While there are 20 million new cases of STI/STDs each year, approximately only 12 percent of Americans get tested for them (what in the world?!). That said, I'm hoping it's a given that, if you are sexually active, you get tested to make sure that you don't have a sexually transmitted infection or disease. But actually, what I'm speaking of here, is how important it is to make sure you don't have COVID-19 too. I live in Nashville. I promise you I don't get why the comedy club Zanies was open and hosting comedian DL Hughley here, when clubs and bars weren't set to until that following Monday. Anyway, when DL passed all the way out during his set, what stood out to me the most was, until he was officially diagnosed with the virus, he had been asymptomatic.
Between how much the virus is spreading, the fact that mutated strains of it are more contagious than the "original version", and more and more people are realizing that they are asymptomatic, just like DL was, yes, you and your partner need to get tested to see if you've got it. Currently, there are viral and antibody tests that are available. In order to figure out where you should go to get tested in your area, it's important to contact your physician first. Because different states have different regulations, click here to find where various local testing centers are.
2. Use Condoms
If you're not in an exclusive relationship, not on birth control and don't want to get an STD—you need to be using a condom. Full stop. But as it specifically relates to COVID-19, another reason to bring condoms into the mix (whether it's for oral sex or intercourse) is because they help to prevent the spread of saliva (oral) and fecal matter (anal; more in that in a bit).
While it is important to note that many health professionals have stated that they have yet to find evidence of the virus being in semen or vaginal fluids, again, the fact that we're supposed to stay six feet apart from others and wear a mask whenever we're out, is enough of a reason to get why using a rubber is a good idea. So, make sure that you do, OK? (Speaking of condoms, make sure that you check out "10 Things You Should DEFINITELY Know About Condoms" for more info on them.)
3. Rethink Doing It If Your Partner Hasn’t Worn a Mask
Unfortunately, there are some people in my world who are whilin'. They're out 'n about, not wearing masks, overdosing on YouTube conspiracy videos and all up on airplanes. So definitely, when it comes to interacting with them, we talk on the phone; who knows when I'll want to see them face to face again (not any time soon, that's for sure). Why? Because they aren't taking safety precautions to make sure that they don't become infected. And yes, that's a really big deal. Matter of fact, I recently read an article on NPR about how some states are requiring that if you travel there, you will need to stay put and quarantine for two weeks, so that you don't bring the possibility of the virus back to your hometown.
Anyway, because there is irrefutable evidence that wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (because it keeps mucus and saliva droplets from "traveling" around), it's important that both you and your partner wear one, every time that you are out in public. If your city/state doesn't mandate that you do and one of you goes without one, you really should wait 14 days before gettin' it in again. Otherwise, you both could end up with the virus, whether you realize it or not (because symptoms can appear in as little as two days or as much as 14 in some instances).
4. Wash Hands and Sex Toys (Consistently)
Social distancing and wearing a mask aren't the only ways to decrease your risk of getting COVID-19. It's important that you also wash your hands. Regular soap is fine; just make sure that you wash, thoroughly, for no less than 30 seconds, every time that you do. By the way, you should wash your hands as soon as you come into your house. You should wash your hands after handling things that have been outside of your home (like groceries or take-out). And yes, you should wash your hands before and right after sex. While that might sound crazy (considering all of the bodily fluids that just got exchanged), you never know what you and your partner may have inadvertently touched before touching each other. So, it's an extra step that could possibly end up making a big difference.
Oh, and if you and yours like to use sex toys, make sure to wash those as well. Fecal matter is one way that COVID-19 gets transmitted and since it gets on sheets and into underwear, so you can best believe that it's on sex toys too. That's why you need to thoroughly clean your toys with soap and water, after every use.
5. Back Up Off of the Anal Sex
If anal sex is your thing, there are two things to remember. One is something that I've shared before—the FDA has yet to approve a condom for anal sex (definitely food for thought). Secondly, again, COVID-19 can definitely be transmitted through fecal matter. Whenever you engage in anal sex, some amount of it gets transmitted between partners. So yeah, if you want an even greater chance of lowering your risk of getting the virus, backing off of anal sex (no pun intended, of course), at least for the time being, is probably a wise thing to do.
6. Wait If One of You Isn’t Feeling Well
I'm hoping that this one is a given, but hey, Trump is our president and Kanye claims he's running to become it, so, anything crazy is possible.
Because some of the symptoms of COVID-19 mimic a cold or the flu, don't assume that a bout of coughing or a fever is nothing more than that. If you or your partner are under the weather, either get tested ASAP and/or wait 14 days before having sex again.
Hey, that might seem like a long time but since severe cases of the virus can take up to six weeks (sometimes longer) for symptoms to go away, it's best to be on the safe side. It's better to wait 14 days and be well than to ignore that and be sick for a month and a half or more. Wouldn't you agree?
7. Keep Your Immune System Up
At this point, a lot of us know, at least one person, who's been diagnosed with the virus. If you're blessed to not be one of them, please don't take that for granted. Chances are, eventually, you will. And that's a great reminder to do all that you can to keep your own immune system healthy and strong. Reading articles on our site like "10 All-Natural Ways To Avoid Catching A Cold" (because it can help to ward off viruses in general), getting plenty of rest, sleeping with a humidifier on (because it can make certain viruses and bacteria in the air weaker, making it harder for you to get them), drinking lots of water, walking outside in your neighborhood (in order to get some fresh air)—these are all things that can help to keep your immune system strong so that it's harder for you to get sick.
8. Stay Exclusive
If you're someone who struggles with exclusivity, allow the time of COVID-19 to be a motivating factor. That's because, if there's one thing that all healthcare providers can agree on, it's the fact that a pandemic is absolutely the wrong time to pick up a new sex partner. You know the saying, "Stick to the devil you know"? While hopefully, your partner is good people, remaining intimate with someone you're already quite familiar with is another way to lower your risk of getting the virus. So, make sure, for the sake of all parties involved, that you do. Y'all be safe out here.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
With two Eclipses happening this month, this is one of the powerhouse months of 2023 and one that will be unforgettable for many. The month begins in Libra Season, and with Mercury also entering Libra on October 4th. When Mercury is in Libra, the focus is on keeping the peace, creating harmony, and finding the beauty in life. Relationships, finances, pleasure, and creation are all the focus during Libra Season, and this month overall will be creating a lot of positive change in these areas of life.
What October 2023 Has In Store For Your Zodiac Sign
On October 8th, Venus moves into earth sign Virgo, and love takes on a more serious and grounded tone here. Venus in Virgo has high standards and wants the best of the best. There is a possibility of becoming overly critical in love or relationships with this energy, however overall, Venus in Virgo will be focused on letting go of unhealthy behaviors in love and creating more positive ways of relating, giving, and receiving in relationships. A few days later, Pluto goes direct in Capricorn after going retrograde in Aquarius back in May, and fewer power struggles and obstacles are more likely.
With Pluto direct in Capricorn, it is easier to reach your goals, build success, and see your own self-empowerment in it all.
On October 12th, Mars enters Scorpio, and Mars loves being in this water sign as it’s the ruler of Scorpio. Mars in Scorpio is passionate and direct and heats things up when it comes to your relationships. Mars will be in Scorpio until November 24th, and a spark is definitely being lit. A few days later, we have a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra.
This Solar Eclipse is creating a fresh start in love, but may also be bringing things to the forefront that are uncomfortable to see. A Solar Eclipse in Libra is relationship-oriented, and this is where you will be seeing the most impact now.
Before the month ends, Mercury enters Scorpio on October 22nd, Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th. The end of October is when a lot of big moves are being made, and transformations are occurring, and it’s about letting go of baggage before moving forward again. The Lunar Eclipse in Taurus is another eclipse that has an impact on relationships, as both Libra and Taurus are ruled by Venus, the planet of love.
Through what is changing and transforming in some of your close relationships, this energy suggests there is greater love on the other side of it. Find gratitude in where you are, and stand in hope and self-belief for where you want to be.
Your October 2023 Monthly Horoscopes
ARIESAriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
Your strength is needed this month, Aries. During October, the Sun is in Libra, meaning the Sun is in your 7th house. The 7th house is the house of love and relationships, but it’s also the house of open enemies and opposition. This month, you will be finding your balance between the opening you are seeing in your life right now and what still needs to be built.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse in this area of your chart, the 7th house, and this is an impactful time for you emotionally. The intentions you have been setting in your love life and financially are creating a new scene for you. This is a good month to do more of the things that make you happy, to get creative, and to notice the beauty in your life. Before the month ends, your ruling planet, Mars, moves into your 8th house, and things get deep and even more emotional for you moving into November.
TAURUSTaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of reflection for you, Taurus. There is a lot happening this month and a lot happening for you personally, yet you are taking the time to tend to your inner world and recreate your safe spaces. With Venus in a fellow earth sign and in your 5th house of romance for most of this month, you will be sure to have plenty of love in your life to help you through some of the downtime you are getting in October.
Mars moves into your house of love on October 12th, and this is heating things up for you in your relationships and sex life. Fuel your passions and notice what is lighting you up inside right now. Before the month ends, on October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your sign, and you are going through some major life changes. You are closing one chapter of your life of self-discovery and moving forward with a new view of yourself and the world around you.
GEMINIGeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about letting go, Gemini. You are moving through a time of releasing what has been filling your world with more chaos and confusion than clarity and are paving a new path for yourself. Your ruling planet, Mercury, is in your house of happiness for most of this month, and you are really thinking of the things that your heart wants and expressing yourself through this space of openness as well. Communication channels are exciting for you this month.
On October 14th, the New Moon Eclipse will be highlighting all of the energy of love you have been feeling this month and will be helping you hone in on your creative passions and hobbies as well. This month is surprising you on how well things turn out when you let go of what isn’t working. The second eclipse of the month is on the 28th, and this one for you is about laying the past to rest once and for all and giving yourself time to heal and process.
CANCERCancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is an activating month for you, Cancer. There are some eye-opening moments happening, and a lot of things are coming to a head. The energy of the month is about letting things find their place and allowing yourself to be okay in the process. Venus is in your 3rd house of communication for most of this month, and you will be able to communicate more freely how you are feeling and what you need in your relationships right now.
With the Sun in Libra and in your 4th house for most of October, home is really where the heart is right now. Spending time in comfortable environments where you feel the most at ease is nourishing. Before the month ends, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your 11th house of community, and things are coming full circle for you. Lean on your support systems and community for an extra hand, and know that you deserve to take up space.
LEOLeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
This is a month of things moving forward for you, Leo. Patience is still needed, as things may not be moving as quickly as expected, however, they are moving nonetheless, and you are leaving the space of stagnation you have been feeling the past couple of months. Openings are coming into your life, and with Venus now in your 2nd house, you are able to capitalize on what you have been investing in and claim your abundance.
The Solar Eclipse happening mid-month will be awakening something within you when it comes to expressing yourself. You are breaking free from fears, limitations, and self-judgments and seeing yourself as someone who deserves to be heard. The Sun is also in this area of your chart until the end of the month, and you have all the support from the universe right now to speak up and speak your truths.
VIRGOVirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of blessings for you, Virgo. This year has been a year of a lot of ups and downs for you, and in the second half of this year, you really get to settle into more stability and positive fruition. You are being guided to use your instincts wisely this month, however, so as to keep blessings rolling. Your ruling planet, Mercury, will be in your 2nd house of income for most of the month, as well as the Sun, and financially, this is a really good month for you.
On October 8th, Venus moves into your sign, and you are receiving and feeling the love right now. Venus will be in your sign until November 8th, and over the next month, this is a good time for your relationships and business, receiving positive feedback, and putting yourself out there. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse happening in your 9th house of adventure, and you could be seeing some travel or education plans coming to fruition now. You are really ready to enjoy how far you have come this month.
LIBRALibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about creating your dreams, Libra. This is an exciting month for you and one where you are healing your inner child, gaining a new perspective, and manifesting your life. Libra Season is fully underway, and this is an impactful Libra Season for you, as there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your sign on the 14th. This Solar Eclipse is your time to shine, to bring your dreams to the forefront, and to let go of the past that doesn’t resonate with you anymore. It’s all about the vision this month; focus on the best one for yourself.
With the Sun and Mercury in your 1st house of self for most of the month and Venus in your 12th house of closures, you are finding your balance between the new and the old. You know there is a lot to release emotionally in your life still, but you are also giving yourself the space and freedom to soak in the good that has already arrived and making you happy right now. On October 23rd, Libra Season ends, and you are ready to focus more on your plans for the future.
SCORPIOScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of rebirth for you, Scorpio. This is one of the most powerful months for you and one where you are starting fresh in many ways. Mercury is in your house of endings for most of the month, and your mind is focused on your spirituality, finding solutions, and letting go of perspectives and habits that don’t serve you or your health. Through the transformations that are occurring right now, new life is coming to fruition.
Mars and Mercury both enter your sign before Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and by the end of October, the energy moves from release to receive. You have more energy at your disposal when Mars is in your sign, and you are moving through a time of passion, action, and making things happen for yourself. This Scorpio Season for you is one where you are creating a new life for yourself and following the dreams you left to the wayside.
SAGITTARIUSSagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
Sagittarius, October is all about the heart and about showing up. This month for you is a time of support, friendship, and community, and a time where you are really discovering who your people are. You are awakening to what your inner child needs to heal and are seeking forgiveness this month. This is a time for you to move toward a new path in your life, one that feels more fulfilling for you and your well-being.
Venus is in Virgo and in your 10th house of career this month, and you are seeing some positive changes within your professional world. You are being received especially favorably right now, and this is a good month to ask for a promotion, network, or redefine your career goals. On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your 11th house, and your hopes and dreams are coming true for you. The clarity you gain this month is life-changing.
CAPRICORNCapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about patience, finding your peace, and exploring the world, Capricorn. You are focusing a lot on your belief systems, your intentions, and what goals you have set for yourself and your life. Venus is in your 9th house of adventure for most of the month, and you are really thinking about the big picture right now. You are doing more things differently this time of the year, thinking outside of the box and allowing your intentions to come to fruition.
On October 10th, Pluto goes direct in your sign. Pluto retrograde entered your sign in June, and you finally get to settle into the transformations that have been occurring since then. You’ve had a lot of moments of self-clarity and change, but now you are ready to live in this space and experience fewer changes to your environment. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening, and this Lunar Eclipse is a time of love coming full circle for you. Relationships are developing at the end of October, and you are letting go of the past in love.
AQUARIUSAquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is all about allowing life to unfold effortlessly, Aquarius. The path of least resistance is the most rewarding one, and this month, you are tapping into your inner faith. You have truly been trusting the process, and with the Sun in your 9th house for most of the month, the divine guidance is there for you right now. This month is about trusting that things are coming together for you and enjoying your life how you can right now.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening, and this eclipse is helping you build new foundations in your life. You have goals you want to set, places you want to see, and people you want to meet, and this eclipse is highlighting all of that for you. The second eclipse of the month is happening on the 28th, and this Lunar Eclipse is about letting things settle in, finding your ground, and nourishing your inner world. You are going within a lot this month, and through the new insight you have found, you are ready to make some concrete decisions that have been needed.
PISCESPiscesKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a time of compassion, nurture, and love, Pisces. You are putting the love into your life and feeling this energy come back to you as well. Venus is in Virgo, your opposite sign, for most of the month, and this is good energy when it comes to your relationships and your love life. Your focus is on the people in your life and where you want things to grow in love, and you are putting in the effort to make your dreams come true for you here.
With the Sun also in your 8th house of commitments for most of the month, another love area of your chart, you can expect this to be a more emotional month for you. You are getting vulnerable, expressing where you stand, and creating a new slate for yourself in love. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening in your 3rd house of communication, and the messages and insights you have been looking for are coming in.
The end of the month is a busier time for you, and you will be suddenly seeing everything you want to do and plan right now.
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Featured image by Kyra Jay for xoNecole