Since March, COVID-19 has has made everything we attempt to do in 2020 more difficult. From figuring out how to hold down a job virtually, to maintaining some semblance of a social life via FaceTime, the “new normal” has been rough. Having sex during COVID? Pretty hard to do while you’re masked up and trying to keep some distance.
If we’re honest, we’re definitely still having sex, pandemic or no pandemic. Whether or not we’re practicing safe sex and taking special precautions to slow the spread of COVID is another issue.
In fact, researchers believe that a recent downturn in cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) isn’t due to us having less sex, but due to clinic closures and/or fear of visiting a medical facility during a pandemic.
Maybe COVID has you questioning whether it’s okay to still have sex. Maybe you’re still having sex but wondering if you’re doing something wrong.
Bottom line: you’ve got needs, we’ve got answers. We’ve got your complete guide to sexual relationships during COVID. Our sex drives aren’t going anywhere, but neither is COVID, so we’re going to have to figure out how to practice even safer sex.
Is it Safe to Have Sex During COVID?
Social distancing, masks, hand sanitizer… none of these things really set the mood for getting hot and heavy. The good news is, it is possible to still have sex during COVID and stay safe at the same time. First, it’s important to understand how COVID spreads.
How COVID-19 Spreads
According to the CDC, COVID is spread by transmission of droplets from one person to another.
Droplets can transfer form person to person by:
- – Sneezing and coughing without covering your nose and mouth;
- – Touching surfaces contaminated with particles;
- – Shaking hands, slapping high-five, or any other method of touch.
If you can potentially spread COVID simply by shaking hands, it would seem like having sex is completely off the table. Luckily, that’s not the case. You can still maintain a sexual relationship during the pandemic by taking a few special precautions.
Safer Sex During COVID
You already know the basics: use protection, get tested for STDs on a regular basis, etc. But during COVID season, you’ll need to level up your safety game.
Here’s how you can make sure both you and your partner(s) don’t get sick:
– Opt for activities that do not involve transmission of fluid. Masturbation doesn’t spread COVID, and if you opt to do this with a partner virtually, you’ll both ensure your safety. This is especially helpful if you’re in lockdown or if one or both of you has been exposed to the virus.
– Try to limit sex to people who are practicing social distancing guidelines and mask wearing. If you’ve been slaying the mask game since March, it’s not worth it to expose yourself to someone new who may not have taken the pandemic as seriously as you have.
– Keep it clean. Okay, so maybe washing your hands while singing “Happy Birthday” isn’t your idea of foreplay, but it is important. Both you and your partner should wash your hands and any sex toys you plan to use prior to intercourse.
– Ask questions. If you’re adding a new partner in your life during the pandemic, you need to know a little history. This isn’t just the usual “hey are you clean” conversation. You need to know if your potential partner has been exposed to anyone with COVID in the last two weeks, if they themselves have had symptoms, and if they’ve been tested.
If it feels awkward to have this conversation, consider this: Your health and your partner’s health are more important than skipping a potentially life-saving conversation just because it’s something new and different.
– Don’t have sex when you or your partner are sick. If you’re sick or your partner is sick, don’t have sex. Practice social distancing, refer to suggestion number 1, and don’t have contact with one another until you’ve been cleared by a medical professional.
What If I Get an Infection During COVID?
While we’re talking about COVID sex, let’s talk about what happens if you get a vaginal infection during a pandemic.
Let’s be honest, some of us are prone to getting inconvenient “down there” issues like BV and yeast infections whether we’re currently sexually active or in a season of singleness.
What usually happens? We start feeling symptoms, we wait until we can’t wait anymore, make an appointment with the doc and head in for a prescription that may or may not be effective.
Meanwhile, these conditions can make having sex painful and embarrassing. Itching, burning, unpleasant odors-these symptoms don’t make us feel particularly sexy.
The problem with getting an infection during COVID is that it can be even more difficult to get into a doctor’s office. If you’re on lockdown, or just simply not comfortable being in a medical facility while there’s a deadly virus floating around, seeing a doctor may not be a great option for you.
Thankfully, when it comes to vaginal health, you’ve got options. If an infection is wrecking your sex life you can treat it from home more often than not. As long as it’s not the first time you’ve had symptoms like itching or burning, it’s ok to use something like Boric Acid.
With suppositories like VeeCleanse you get the convenience of treating an infection from home, without having to deal with the mess of something like Monistat.
If you’ve had a “Why the heck do I smell?!” moment, we can give you the answer. It’s because you’re normal, girl.
Seriously. The vagina is a self-regulating microbiome of good bacteria that typically does a great job keeping itself healthy and fresh.
However, just like any other part of your body, bad bacteria can sometimes take over, disrupt the pH balance, and wreak havoc.
Having vaginal odor does not mean that you aren’t clean. It basically means your vagina’s pH is a little out of whack.
Don’t freak out. You’re not alone. Millions of women experience vaginal issues that cause odor.
Here are some of the reasons why you might be experiencing a not-so-great smell.
– Bacterial vaginosis (BV). This is a condition where bad bacteria multiply, causing symptoms like itching, burning, pain during sex and urination, discharge, and a foul, fishy odor. The foul fishy odor is especially likely to show up immediately after sex.
– Your period. Your period can screw with your vagina’s pH balance, causing it to become alkaline, which basically means your pH number has gone up.
– Medications. Some medications, like antibiotics, can disturb your pH levels and even give you a yeast infection. Although odors don’t always accompany yeast infections, they definitely can, adding on top of other symptoms you’ll have (like thick, lumpy discharge, burning, and itching).
– Sexual activity. Introducing foreign fluid (i.e. saliva, semen) to your vagina can change the pH balance, leaving you with an odor that might not have even been worth the experience!
– Douching. Douching isn’t really necessary, and if you do it too much it can change the acidity level of your vagina, causing you to experience an unpleasant odor (which is probably why you used the douche in the first place). Trust us, the vagina is like a self-cleaning oven; you really don’t need to clean the inside of it at all.
Where Can I Get Help for Vaginal Issues During COVID?
If you’re experiencing these issues, you might feel isolated and alone. It’s hard to talk about vaginal health without feeling some embarrassment.
While these issues are totally normal, we know how it feels to think you’re the only one out there experiencing them. That feeling can be even worse during COVID. If you’re experiencing issues that can’t be cleared up with home treatments, your doctor still wants to help.
Remember that even during this pandemic your doctor is still there for you. It might take a bit longer to be seen, but they still want to see you. Just keep in mind that you may have to follow strict precautions like wearing a mask and answering screening questions before you go into the building.
If sex during COVID seems scary, it shouldn’t. You can still have safe sex and do your part to slow the spread of COVID by just following a few extra precautions.
If you start experiencing vaginal issues during the pandemic, don’t panic. Your doctor still wants to help you. Don’t be afraid to reach out with questions and concerns. Take a deep breath. We’re all going to get through this together.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.