By Rita Thompson
Amidst all of the chaos regarding the novel coronavirus and social distancing, sex remains on the brain. Twitter is filling up with jokes about people’s quarantine sex-lives, or lack thereof.
Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 and sexual activity.
Increase in Sexual Activity
While social distancing guidelines continue to increase, something about being cooped up in the house seems to turn people on.
According to an article in WIRED, Swedish luxury sex toy brand, LELO, has already seen a 40% increase in sales. Another sex toy and lingerie retailer, Ann Summers, has seen a 27% increase in sales of sex toys compared to this time last year, and a 100% increase in condom sales in just one week.
Rajiv Mehta, consultant psychiatrist at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) explained this increase to Economic Times India. “In times of war and epidemics, intimacy levels go up among sexual partners,” said Mehta.
“People are anxious and living at home. Couples, married or otherwise, who were too busy with their professional lives are now getting proximity and time. So intimacy will increase as it has increased during wars. This is a war-like situation.”
Safe sex During COVID-19
We know that coronavirus can spread easily to people who are within 6 feet or less of each other. Most commonly, the virus spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids, like saliva or mucus, such as when a person coughs or sneezes.
As of right now, there is still a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex. However, the fact is, physical contact, especially involving an exchange of bodily fluids, can easily spread disease.
But we can’t all just put our sex lives on hold, right? We’ve got needs. Luckily, public health officials, like the NYC Health Department, for instance, are releasing guidelines for those wondering how to get it on safely during quarantine.
First, choose the right partner. Avoid anyone outside the household to prevent the possible spread.
If your partner(s) is not quarantined with you, or if you’re a sex worker, it might be a good time to experiment with other forms of intimacy. Like video dates, sexting, or chat rooms.
If you do live with your partner, there are still preventative measures necessary to help keep each other safe.
If you or your partner are feeling unwell, it’s wise to skip sex during this time.
Otherwise, make sure to wash up before and after sex—that includes hands, toys, and keyboards!
According to NYC’s Department of Health, COVID-19 has been found in the feces of people who are infected. Thus, condoms and dental dams are a good way to prevent contact with saliva or feces during oral and anal activity.
Further, the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is more important than ever as those with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk of COVID-19.
Couples who are Trying
While there is currently no proof that pregnant people have a greater chance of contracting COVID-19 than the general public, it’s natural for couples to question whether or not now is a good time to be trying.
According to the associate director at the Southern California Reproductive Center in Beverly Hills, Calif. further research needs to be done. However, couples should still err on the side of caution.
“If you were to conceive a baby while one partner had COVID-19 (remember, people can be asymptomatic, so you may not know if you have it), it does not appear that the virus is transmitted via sperm or eggs, so the resulting embryo shouldn’t be affected,” Dr. Surrey explained to Health.com.
“For couples trying to procreate right now, I suggest being more vigilant about avoiding social contact and hand hygiene, but it’s tricky to come up with clear parameters.”
Keep in mind that there is still much more research being done on COVID-19 and how it spreads. While this information is helpful, social distancing and abstinence is the only sure way to keep you safe.