COVID, Sex and Intimacy
What a year 2020 is turning out to be. One minute I am flying around Australia and overseas to present workshops and attend conferences and next I am in my apartment in Melbourne – being outside for one hour per day. In Melbourne, we have stage four lock-down – this means very limited reasons for moving outside the home. Of course other areas of Australia, and the world even, have various procedures in place.
One question I am asked is, “How do I do sex (and/or intimacy) during lock down?” Of course this is different for people who are single versus people in relationships. And for people in relationships this can be impacted on whether they co-habitate or live apart. This month I will focus on people who are single.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a coronavirus which spreads from person-to-person through close contact with an infectious person, including droplets from coughs, sneezing and possibly through breathing. It can also be transmitted through touching objects and/or surfaces that have droplets on. For more information check out the COVID-19 information @ the Commonwealth Department of Health.
What Does This Mean for Sex if I am Single?
If you are single and hooking-up with casual partners there is a possible risk. We know asking someone if they have COVID or have been exposed to COVID is not the most reliable form of determining risk. Many places have strategies in place to minimise transmission by minimising person-to-person contact. For example, only undertaking essential activity. Casual sex where there is a some level of lock-down would be considered a no-go activity. Casual partnered sex would pose as risk even where there is no lock-down.
Oral Activities – Kissing and Oral Sex
Sex and intimacy can often involve mouth-to-mouth contact. Kissing contact with a casual partner is a possible risk. Oral sex – fellatio, cunnilingus and analingus (rimming) are also considered high risk because of the presence of salvia. Using a barrier method may minimise risk yet does stop saliva being produced which is where the virus may be located; or droplets being spread. I cannot recall any form of kissing or oral sex where it does get wet and messy (in a good way of course).
This maybe a good time to explore a solo sexuality if you are single. Masturbation is healthy at any time. A healthy sex life includes a healthy masturbation life no matter if you are single and casual sexing or dating, or in a relationship. Masturbation is about the individual – for many people it is a way to self-soothe. It can also be a way to learn about our sexual self. Masturbation when you are single , or partnerless, may be your only form of sexual release. Sex is about the relationship (between the partners). Masturbation and sex co-exists in a healthy sexuality.
I have written a number of times about masturbation. Check out this blog for penis-owners and this blog for vulva-owners. These blogs rpeent some ideas for exploring your body and making masturbation more fun.
If you have a casual sexual partner, a hook-up, a pick-up, you could watch each other masturbate. Now keep in mind if you are a location where you have keep spatial distance then the voyeur-exhibitionist aspect could add to the horniess. Watching, and/or being watched can be a big turn on for some people. Give it a go. Remember both parties need to consent and keep it private (not public – that would be illegal)
Talk Dirty to Me – Phone Sex
Talking dirty to a sexual partner can also be fun. It can also be embarrassing. It can be downright hilarious too. Have no expectations. No one expects you to be sex phone line operator. Share your fantasies or secrets or desires.
Begin by discussing with your partner what they would like to do over the phone. Do you share your fantasy? Do you talk about some past sexual experience? Do you describe what you want to do to each other over the phone?
Set the scene. Get comfortable and go for it.
Online sex using Zoom or Skype or plain ol’ fashion video calling is another way to have casual sex safely. Again talk to your partner about how you want to proceed. Establish the rules and boundaries. Remember what goes online stays online. So not recording may be a good caution to consider. For example with Zoom you can identify if the call is being recorded. Cyber-cautions apply!
When connecting over the web you can talk and/or masturbate. Use toys (see below). The options are endless and fun! Again the voyeur-exhibitionist streak may be an addition to the turn on.
Toys, Toys, and Tech
What would blog on an adult products/ adult toys site not be with a reference to some form of toys? 😊 Use your adult toys/products. Where in a solo sexuality scene, a watching-each-other masturbation scene, phone sex, online sex. As I have written (and spoken) many times – toys can be a great adjunct to sex. Toys are about fun!
Then there are the tech toys; the blue-tooth enabled toys. You can sue these tech toys as an individual or with a parnter/s. You can use them while on the phone or online together. These blue-tooth adult-products mean one person has the product and another person can “control” the toy via an app on a blue-tooth device. Check out the Lovense Lush if you are a vulva-owner or the Lovense Hush or Lovense Edge if you are penis-owner. I do recommend these products – I have used them yet, however I may have seen them in action (ask no questions – it was for research purposes only!). Tech toys are a great way to engage together with partner’s over distance. Tech toys and blue-tooth are the way of the future.
Sex Buddy/Sex Friend/FwB
It may be an option to buddy up with someone and have exclusive casual sex with one other person during this time. (No, it does not mean you are entering a “committed” relationship.) You and your sex buddy, or sex friend, or friend-with-benefits, can make an agreement to engage in behaviours which keep each other safe. This is based on good and clear communication (and active listening) as well as trust. It is not the safest – it can be safer than casual sex with a person whom you recently, and/or randomly met. A sex buddy may also mean that in lockdown situations where intimate partners can still visit each other you can still have some sexual play with another person.
The Washing-Up: Good Hygiene
Good hygiene is important for your safety and the public health – safety of others. Maintaining good hygiene in your general public activities like washing hands before and after coming home; keeping spatial distance; wearing face-masks (where required) and gloves if need be all assist in minimising the spread of COVID.
Good hygiene during sex is also important. Wash your hands before and after sex. Be mindful of the presence of saliva and the possible risks (keep it safe as possible). Wash your toys afterwards using warm soapy water or a quality toy cleaner.
If you are single during this COVID pandemic, it does not mean you have be sexless. There are options. Remember your safety, the safety of your sexual partner/s and the public safety are all important during this time.
Remember a healthy life includes a healthy sex life. And a healthy sex life is sane, (con)sensual and safe.
Dr Christopher Fox is a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist at Sex Life Therapy in Melbourne. He has clinics in Collingwood and Frankston. He regularly appears in the media and runs workshops for the general public and professionals. Dr Christopher is also Senior Lecturer in Sexual Health (Sexology) at the Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney where he coordinates the Psychosexual Therapy training program..
Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide an overview of the subject matter covered. Please read product packaging carefully and follow all instructions.