As cities around the U.S. enter various stages of “opening up” from quarantine (with numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 still cropping up higher than anyone would like to see), it’s only natural that we start considering when it is safe to start doing certain activities. While it’s easier to get a sense for when you can get a haircut, go for a hike or sign your kid up for a summer camp, personal choices like when you can comfortably resume sexual activity (especially with people who don’t live with you) can have varying answers!
So, as the CDC already said: The safest sex you can have is sex had with yourself (which is always true, pretty much). But the latest update in guidelines updated by the New York City Department of Health add that it may be advisable to wear a mask if you’re having sex with a new partner or someone who hasn’t been living with you or isn’t a part of your “quarantine bubble.”
“Wear a face covering or mask. Maybe it’s your thing, maybe it’s not, but during COVID-19 wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth is a good way to add a layer of protection during sex,” they write. “Heavy breathing and panting can spread the virus further, and if you or your partner have COVID-19 and don’t know it, a mask can help stop that spread.”
(So if you happen to be the type of person who loves role-play or medical kink, this is your time!)
The consensus remains that sexual contact of any kind carries a risk of transmission (with questions about whether semen can carry the virus still being debated), according to guidelines recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. So you are totally encouraged to keep safe, social distancing sexual activities on the table depending on you and your partner(s) comfort levels. (And if anyone is at heightened risk for complications from COVID-19, you want to be extra cautious and mindful.)
What are some other sexual health best practices to consider?
Well, unfortunately, a lot of fun activities involving your mouth on another person’s body part are probably a no-go. (Sorry lingus-lovers!)
“Kissing can easily pass the virus. Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your small circle of close contacts,” the NYC DoH guidelines note. “Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread the virus. Virus in feces may enter your mouth and could lead to infection.” Though they add that “Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva, semen or feces during oral or anal sex.” (Barrier methods — still your friends after all these years!)
But there are still ways to make these precautions a more positive experience by getting creative about how you experience sexual intimacy together.
“Make it a little kinky. Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact,” per the guidelines. (Though maybe don’t install a glory hole in your house?) “Masturbate together. Use physical distance and face coverings to reduce the risk.”
And, of course, keep practicing good sense and hygiene when engaging in sexual activity. Wash up before and after sexual contact (or during), take good care to clean up sex toys and electronics and consistently use your best hand-washing technique.
Embrace your safest sex partner (all you, baby!) and try a few of our favorite masturbation positions: