Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most individuals dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to unverified online sources or follow the unscientific advice of their friends.
To address the widespread misinformation about sex, News18.com is running this weekly sex column, titled ‘Let’s Talk Sex’, every Friday. We hope to initiate conversations about sex through this column and address sexual health issues with scientific insight and nuance.
The column is being written by Sexologist Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain. In today’s column, Dr Jain recommends ways to practice safe sex during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though public spaces are opening up, and you can finally resume dating new people, engaging in sex with new partners during COVID times is a whole different ballgame. Safety practices are not just limited to the use of condoms, and sexual intimacy can actually expose you to COVID related risks. During such times, it is essential to know some of the basic precautionary measures that would allow you to have a sex life and still be considerably safe.
Physical Distance To Sexual Distance
While physical distancing has become the new normal, it is hard to advise people to maintain sexual distance from their significant others. So, during COVID times, the only reliable way to know if you or your partner are not infected and can engage in intimacy is through testing. If you and your partner have no symptoms and have stayed at home, sex likely poses no risk.
Can you get COVID-19 from sex?
COVID-19 isn’t a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), and the virus has not yet been found in semen or vaginal fluid. However, if you are not vaccinated and you don’t know if another person is vaccinated, the recommended minimum distance to maintain from others is 6 feet. Thus, while COVID- 19 isn’t transmitted through sex, you can get COVID-19 by being in close contact with someone infected (even if they don’t have symptoms) or direct contact with their saliva or mucus.
Having sex with others, including intimate touching and kissing, puts you at risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
Precautions to follow
We can contribute to the control of the COVID-19 pandemic by taking a few precautions with having sex. Here are a few general recommendations to keep in mind to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during sex.
Instead of kissing and sexual intercourse, opt for extended and romantic foreplay if you or your partner have travelled recently and have not yet gotten tested.
At this point, the safest person to have sex with is someone you live with. However, if you or your partner exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or generally feel unwell, it’s advised that you avoid any physical contact and self-isolate for 14 days. This means no sex, no intimate touching, and certainly no kissing.
If you want to have sex with someone who doesn’t live with you, you may want to consider having sex with as few partners as possible. If you usually meet your sex partners online, maybe consider not meeting in person and using digital platforms to ignite intimacy.
If you do have sex, it is recommended that you wash before sex and after sex. This is because COVID-19 can live on surfaces for hours, and so you must wash before you touch your partner – paying extra attention to your hands!
Among the safety recommendations are to use rubber gloves, condoms, and dental dams to reduce contact with saliva and other types of secretions and to wear a face mask and avoid kissing.
And remember, sex means different things to different people and doesn’t always involve intercourse or touching. So this could be an excellent opportunity to find new ways of enjoying one another or even yourself!
It is essential to stay in tune with your partner, especially if you don’t feel well or simply do not want to engage in any sexual activity.
It is definitely not the best time to go on a Tinder date or expose yourself to unnecessary risks from new partners. If they really like you, they will wait. If you have already started engaging with people, keeping track of whom you have been with and where and when is a good idea. There is no evidence that kissing through a mask is a safe practice.
The Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over yet. Therefore, before deciding to have sex, one needs to consider the safety and the impact that this may cause to yourself and others in society as a priority.