With pubs reopening in most parts of the country, people returning to the office and some semblance of ‘normal’ life returning, it can be easy to forget that we’re in the midst of a pandemic.
However, we should still be social distancing, which means that technically, you shouldn’t be having sex with people outside of your household. Research conducted by the Terrence Higgins Trust (tht.org.uk), in partnership with sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street, found that 84% of people hadn’t had sex with someone outside of their immediate household since lockdown began.
As restrictions continue to lift, the charity acknowledges that asking everyone to refrain from sex entirely is no longer realistic.
Masturbation, using sex toys or participating in phone or online sex are recommended as safer ways to help limit the chances of a second outbreak, but everyone’s situation will be different. So, here are the experts’ top tips for safe sex during the age of coronavirus…
1. Make sure you’re stocked up
Pandemic or no pandemic, it’s important to be safe and protect yourself and your partner from sexually-transmitted infections.
“Check any medications that you need or may be on, such as the contraceptive pill, PrEP and that you have condoms,” says Kate Moyle, sex and relationship expert for Lelo UK (lelo.com).
“That way, if you’re having sex, there’s no anxiety about unwanted pregnancy or sexual health risk. ”
Moyle adds that if you do feel you’re at at risk from a sexual experience, then it’s important to get a sexual health check as soon as possible, to minimise any impact on your health, or passing anything onto future partners. Remember that you can also access sexual health checks by post.
2. Don’t ignore symptoms
If you are having sex with someone new, the Terrance Higgins Trust says it’s important to talk to them about Covid-19 and manage the risk together.
“Ask them if they have any symptoms or had any in the previous two weeks, and the same for anyone in their household. Key symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and loss of sense of smell or taste,” says Dr Michael Brady, medical director at the charity.
“It is also worth asking if they or anyone in their household has tested positive for Covid-19.
He continues: “If you or your partner are feeling unwell, don’t have sex. If you have any Covid-19 symptoms, it’s important to isolate and get tested. There is no proof that having previously had Covid-19 protects you against getting the infection again.”
3. Explore self pleasure
Newsflash: you don’t need a partner to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction or orgasm.
“Sex toy sales rocketed during lockdown and unsurprisingly, people were exploring different ways to make them feel good without even leaving the house,” says Moyle. “Getting to know your body is part of sexual self-care and wellbeing.
4. Take it to a different medium
If you are worried about Covid-19, you’re in a long distance relationship or you’re not living with a partner, Moyle suggests taking your sex life onto different mediums.
“Phone sex and sexting are ways of exploring a different part of your sex life together and involve using your imagination in a new way, which for many people, can be very erotic and exciting,” she explains.
“Set some ground rules and talk about it before venturing into a new space though, so you both feel confident and comfortable and can let go of any worries that might hold you back from having a good time.”
5. Bring in some safety measures
“Not kissing, wearing a face mask during sex and favouring positions where you’re not face-to-face can help to reduce the chances of passing on coronavirus, and using condoms for oral sex will further reduce the risk,” says Brady.
He adds that it’s also good practice to wash your hands for more than 20 seconds before and after sex.