a guide to safer sex and covid 19

Safer Sex and Covid-19

We’re going to need to think more differently about safer sex for the next few months. Thanks COVID-19. So this is a guide to how to have safer sex from this coronavirus as well as the other things we usually need to think about. 

This one is mostly for all you allosexuals out there but also applies to asexual folk who really want some contact too. 

Here’s the shorter instagram version if you like that kind of thing

View this post on Instagram

Just like most sex infections, you can get and give COVID-19 without realising. You can catch it from breathing in droplets of the virus from the breath of other people. So until we can all get tested or vaccinated, there is a risk of COVID-19 from having sex with people. The safest form of sex at the moment is solo sex. For having sex with someone, sexting is covid safe. If you have sex with someone in person then having solo sex but 2 metres apart from the other person is safer. Do not have sex with someone if you have COVID-symptoms. :: a high temperature (your body will feel hot to the touch) :: a new and persistent cough :: a loss of taste and smell (see the NHS website for more on this) Government guidance says that you can’t have sex (or any close contact) with someone you don’t live with or who isn’t in your support bubble. This basically means most young people. IF you choose to break with the guidance, here are some ways you could make it safer. This is not official sexual health advice from the government. ::No kissing ::Shower first so that any virus on your body is washed off before someone else licks it ::Wear masks ::Keep your faces as far apart as you can This last one means that some sexual positions are going to be more risky than others. Even if you do all this you need to remember that it’s not just you at risk. The most consensual thing to do is to ask everyone in your bubble (the people you live with) if it’s okay, or how you might reduce the risks even more. For example if you go to someone’s house you could change at the front door, put your clothes in a bag and then jump straight in the shower. Also if you do increase your bubble size, try to keep it as small as possible. You will need to be honest with other people about how many other people you have sex with or come into close contact with. Lastly, we are all having to have sex with other people less to keep other people safe from the virus. If you have any doubts at all, or would find all the advice here too tricky to put into action, then just don’t have sex. Sorry #sexualhealthweek #sexeducation #AgonyUncle #sexpositions

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Calculating risks and why it’s hard

Before you read on remember that I’m not a doctor. I’m a sex educator who’s trying to learn from the advice we’ve been given by governments and WHO. We’ve only known about this particular virus for a few months and scientists are learning about it all the time. The key facts that I am basing this article on are from the World Health Organisation here. If anything changes I’ll update it. 

Everyone’s view of risk is determined by their own view of the risks and the rewards of sex. Not having any physical contact is going to be extremely difficult for some people, for others it’s going to be less of a problem or not even a problem at all. So try to be kind and have some empathy for what people are going through when they are working this out. 

Some people are going to read the advice I’m giving here and think it’s really irresponsible and risky. Other people will think I’m going massively over the top and that I should get a life. Like with all the other ways I’ve talked about risk on this website, I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m going to just try to give the information and advice about how you can navigate this. It’s about getting informed and making decisions based on consent.

Remember I’m writing this for a UK audience — flippin ‘eck, it’s a turn up for the books, hanky panky etc. However, most of this will be relevant for you around the world too. 

We’ll start with the safest first 

Solo sex

Yes solo sex is sex, as I’ve been saying over and over and over again here. Having sex by yourself can be just as pleasurable and in many ways a lot more pleasurable than having sex with someone else. It might be especially more pleasurable at this time because of all the stress of the virus and other people generally. 

So this is a good opportunity to get down to some serious solo sex. I’ve written quite a bit about how to enjoy solo sex more and I’ll write some more about this in the next few weeks. 

Note. A lot of people might lick their fingers to make them wet before touching themselves. During the outbreak you may want to stop doing that, because a common way for people to get COVID-19 is from their fingers touching their mouth, nose, eyes and face generally. So it’s a good idea to wash your hands thoroughly before you start (in case you touch your face) and to use a lubricant.

Read about lubricant

You can fantasise about something, or someone, and/or you can watch a sexy scene on the internet. If you are over 18, have money, and you like looking at porn actors, now would be a very good time to pay for your porn. Join their websites, or their only fans, or see if they have a wishlist or donation button.

If you’re ace you could also find way to do solo cuddles. Pillows, duvets, cushions, fluffy hot water bottles, teddys might not be as great as someone coming around to be your small spoon, but at least they won’t drool on your pillow. 

Here are loads of masturbation articles. No thank you.

Cyber or phone sex

From a medical perspective, cyber sex or phone sex is very very safe because you aren’t in the same room together. Again I’ve written about sexting and how to do it. It can be flippin amazing if you do it right, and by right I mean consensually. I’ll probably write some more about this too at some point. 

There are some non-medical risks to cyber sex too. Remember that (technically) it’s illegal to take, send, or receive, sexy pics of someone under 18, even if you and they are under 18. It’s unlikely that you will be prosecuted for this (more about this here) but it is a small risk. 

There’s also the risk that the person you are having sex with is recording you without your knowledge, or sharing your pics or words with others. So only do this with people if you feel like you have a good level of trust with.

Please, if you can, do this instead of attempting to meet up with someone for sexy times in person.

Read this about Freedoms and Covid and why it’s consensual to wear a mask. Also if you’re stressed about COVID I’ve got some advice about how to deal with it yourself and how to help others through it.

I have a new book! Pre-order here (or any good bookshop)

In person sex / touching

Right here’s the complicated bit. 

COVID-19 can be passed on through kissing. Your mouths/noses/faces are in close contact when you snog, and that can pass on the virus. So you definitely might want to avoid snogging if you are at risk of getting seriously ill from this coronavirus.

For STIs kissing is pretty safe, but for COVID-19, it’s not safe (it’s also never been safe for colds, flu, or tonsilitis either). COVID-19 can also be passed on by coughing near people, or coughing onto a surface which someone else touches with their hand, and they then touch their face (particularly eyes, nose, mouth). 

Remember if you have symptoms (a higher temperature and a new persistent cough), isolate yourself from others. Here are the symptoms at the NHS website.

So because you can pass COVID-19 on from kissing and coughing, it’s not just you you have to think about. You are not just putting yourselves at risk but everyone else you both come into contact with.  

If you don’t live with them

If you don’t live with your sex or cuddle partner (which, let’s face it is most young people) then it’s going to be very difficult for you to see them because of social distancing (here’s the latest advice about this).

We can have the virus without knowing. If we snog someone, or even touch them with our hands, we risk passing the virus to them who can pass the virus to someone else. It might not make you ill, but it could make someone else seriously ill. Eventually that virus is going to find someone who might get very ill or even die.

So now is the time to be honest and open with everyone and to talk about this. Everyone who is potentially directly affected by you going round to theirs would need to be okay with you going round to theirs. You might consent to sharing germs with each other, but everyone else can’t.  

Also it’s going to be harder for you to have sex if your traditional MO is to sex in that time after school and before your mum or dad get home from work. Sorry about that. I’ll write something else about this another time.

Lowering the risk of in person sex

If after all this you do want to have in person sex, and if you do live with your sex partner, here’s how to lower the risks. The first thing to do is to wash your hands. It’s so important. Washing your hands properly for at least 20 seconds, breaks the structure of the virus and washes it off your hands. So if you do accidentally touch your face, or theirs you are reducing the risk of transmission a lot.

Read more about how to talk about safer sex

You could also even have a bath or a shower beforehand and you could ‘incorporate this into your love making’ if you wanted to. (Sorry that phrase made me a little bit sick in the back of my mouth.)

Sexual activities you might want to avoid 

  • Mouth to mouth kissing (because you are breathing directly into each other).
  • Touching your mouth or their mouth or face (though washing your hands makes that safer).
  • Any sex or cuddling position where your mouths are close to each other could be risky. Pleasurable sex can lead to a lot more deep exhalations of breath.
  • Rimming (licking the anus, probably someone else’s.) Rimming is riskier because there’s some evidence that you can get COVID-19 from poo. For rimming it’s always been a good idea to use a barrier to make that safer. Read more about dams.

Sex you can do

There’s no evidence so far that COVID-19 can be passed on through semen, or any fluids coming from the vagina. So all you have to think about here are all the other safer sex risks (unplanned pregnancy and STIs).

You should know that sexual health services are already reducing their services. As responsible sexers we should also not put extra strain on the health service by getting chlamydia. If you can, please continue trying to make sex as safe as possible. That means using condoms, dams or having non-penetrative sex (with no snogging).

Here are some ideas for safer in person sex

  • Masturbating together is pretty low risk. 
  • Masturbating yourselves next to each other is even lower risk. 
  • Kissing them away from their mouth is pretty low risk (armpits, elbow, thighs etc). 
  • You could both wear masks.
  • Oral sex on genitals appears to be as safe as it was before as far as we know (more on that here). 
  • Massaging, grinding, stroking, nibbling, touching. 
  • The use of any toys or kink implements (like cuffs, paddles)  is pretty safe if you keep them and your hands away from your mouth. It’s always a good idea to wash your toys — follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on this. 

Lastly

I know that this is all a bit sad face. A lot of you are going to miss touching your peoples, and a lot of you are going to miss kissing your peoples. Think of this as being just like a long-distance relationship. Millions of people are in those and they feel connected and loved and have sexy times together. We’re going to have to adjust to having different kinds of sex and to do our relationships differently. And if you are able to have safer sex over the next few weeks, try to enjoy it as much as you can.

How to Enjoy Sex More

That’s it for now. I’ll keep this updated and I’ll also write some more articles about this. Stay tuned to my twitter and instagram feed for updates and advice.

© Justin Hancock, 2020.

I need your help with this website! If you like this piece could you please share it with your peoples. BISH is also on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. No I’m not on TikTok. Let me know in the comments if you found this useful (I moderate them all), or you can send me nice feedback here. BISH is sponsored by Durex UK, thank you Durex. It’s also funded by your kind donations. If you’re an adult with cash, please consider supporting my Patreon or chip in directly via my PayPal. So if you could help with that I’d be very grateful. If you want to teach about this stuff, don’t just show people a website – that’s kinda boring! Check out my very popular RSE resources at bishtraining.com

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