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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