May 1 Update: I’m quoted in this article on sex and the pandemic, for L.A. Taco.
Here are some ideas for sex and intimacy during this time of social isolation and fear of where this Covid-19 pandemic will take us.
However, not everyone is going to feel turned on by the idea of being at home alone or in daily proximity with a partner/s (and/or other family members or roommates). This is a deeply stressful time and many people have trouble focusing on normal tasks, let alone feeling energetic and sexy. This is because our sympathetic nervous system may be on over-drive, and arousal is pretty much impossible when our “fight, flight, or freeze” reactions have taken over.
However, for those who wish to seize this planetary “time-out” as a path to pleasure, I offer the following:
This is not a complete list of pandemic pleasure ideas, by any means. Many sexologists, sex educators, sex therapists and counselors, and others, are addressing sex and intimacy issues during this time. Please note, we are educated and trained to talk about sex and pleasure, intimacy issues, and sex therapies, but we are generally NOT epidemiologists or medical doctors. Our understanding of this novel disease and how it is transmitted will most likely lag behind what is said by experts in this field. (For an example of this, see “A Word About Hook-Ups” below.)
For good general advice, New York City has issued guidelines for sexual activity. See this article.
And when it comes to get solid, scientific info about the disease–and how to protect yourself and others from infection–please go to your local public health department, the World Health Organization (also check out the WHO “Mythbusters” page), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And check for updates regularly.
A Word About Hook-Ups
I was on a podcast last night (not my own). A sex therapist was also a guest. People called in for advice. The show had an informal–even chaotic–format. I had less time than I would have liked to answer questions in depth, or in some cases, at all.
A young woman in CA called who met someone on Tinder. They texted and talked throughout the day. Both claimed they had followed all the social distancing protocols so they thought it would be okay to hook-up, since neither one felt sick. So they did. And they had unprotected sex with “withdrawal” as the birth control method. The young woman wanted to know if this was okay.
The other therapist thought that hooking up was probably fine (in spite of the state public health mandate to social distance), as loneliness is also hazardous to human health. (She didn’t address the unprotected sex aspect.) As the show format was chaotic, I did not have an opportunity to jump in and point out two big problems with this picture:
- Unprotected sex with “withdrawal” as birth control is never a good idea even in the best of times. Certainly not with a person you’ve just met. There is the dual risk of sexually transmitted infections PLUS an unplanned pregnancy. This is not the best time to get pregnant or seek medical or surgical care for a pregnancy. This young woman should probably have tried to obtain Plan B, the “morning after pill,” as well as a 28-day course of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), as explained on the Planned Parenthood website.
- Even more so, the above scenario ignores the dangers of asymptomatic carriers and people who have been infected but who are not yet showing symptoms. Either or both of the people involved could have been in these categories. Without very recent testing of both individuals, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW! It is impossible to accurately assess risk.
Hopefully the lockdown and social distancing measures to preserve public health and slow the spread of the virus will be temporary, but it will last longer than we all want it to if irresponsible and/or ignorant people ignore the imperative to slow and stop the virus by refusing to circulate it, allowing it to infect more people.
Look at the stats below, and the difference between just seven days. In the U.S. we’ve gone from 505,237 confirmed cases to 675,640 cases. The death toll has risen to 34,622 up from 18,850. And those are just the confirmed cases, folks! This doesn’t show us the number of asymptomatic and not yet symptomatic cases.
Still wanna risk a hook-up with a stranger?
Be Gentle, This is Our First Time
Most of the people alive right now have never been through a global pandemic. Here in the U.S., the messages about this disease and the pandemic have been confusing from the start.
Get good information. Be very, very gentle with yourself (and others who are around you). Do your best.
Do not worry if you do NOT feel at all inclined to indulge in pleasure, solo or otherwise. You may just want to sleep, relax, and do very simple things–and that’s okay! Perhaps some of the above ideas will be better later, when we return to a (new) normal.
The new normal, however, may consist of a much changed sexual landscape. Just sayin’.