A guide to sex during quarantine
Written by Jennifer Hanson
While we’re all in lock down and the future is uncertain, connection is what we need the most, including feeling connected to our partner through sex. Not only does sex have numerous, well-documented health benefits, but having sex with your partner results in a 48-hour “afterglow” effect where partners had elevated levels of sexual satisfaction and relationship well-being.1
While there are many other ways to occupy yourself during quarantine like baking a perfect loaf of sourdough, talking to your plants or stress scrolling, these methods usually fall short of satisfying our need for intimacy, so we’d like to humbly present The Hanky Panky Option.
But before riding that pony, read the following tips for safe sex in the time of coronavirus.
While you’re bored out of your mind in quarantine and thinking of the sexually adventurous activities you haven’t tried
, you should proceed with caution. If this new activity is relatively tame (like a new position
, talking dirty, adding a toy etc.) proceed to get down and dirty. However, if you’re considering a sex act that’s a little more ambitious (buying a sex swing, for example), you might want to wait. This is quite possibly the worst time in anyone’s life to have to go to the hospital. Kinkier stuff can always wait until these restrictions have lifted so that both you and your partner stay safe.
If for some reason you have been unable to keep up with your preferred form of birth control, consider using a condom
while quarantined more than ever. Especially if sex is something you and your partner turn to for comfort, it is important to think about where that might take you in times like these. If you’ve been trying for a baby, forge ahead, but considering the timing, it’s not a bad idea to take things slow
. Remember: using more protection than necessary is better if you’re concerned!
Protection is only one aspect of being more aware of your contact with others. Showering regularly is something to keep in mind for a variety of reasons. Since most of us are unable to leave the house because of quarantine, following a hygiene routine
is more important than ever. While it’s appealing to spend days in the same pajamas for comfort’s sake, whoever you’re getting intimate with would most likely appreciate the effort along with the mindset shift that comes with getting clean.
If this hygiene routine is a breeze for you, remember to also wash your hands before you get intimate with your partner. The novel coronavirus spreads predominantly by touching things or people and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Thankfully, it has not been found in semen or vaginal fluid in preliminary tests.2
Since there has been some evidence that asymptomatic people can spread the novel coronavirus further than symptomatic people, it is especially vital to keep your hands clean. Minimizing germ spread in all aspects of our lives is vital during quarantine, so staying as clean as possible can’t be overstated!
Above staying clean and being safe, everyone’s risk is heightened if you are involved with other people during this time. There’s a reason dating is difficult right now. You have no idea who your partners might be interacting with that could be infected! Sex during quarantine can be perfectly safe with two partners who live together,2 but sex with partners who are not quarantined together is a bad idea. Now is the time to have this talk with your partner. Make sure you know this person hasn’t been interacting with a bunch of people or had multiple sexual partners recently. By cutting down on the number of people you interact or sleep with, you cut down everyone’s chances for contracting COVID-19. Similarly, if this is a time you find yourself alone in your abode, you can always try dating online via phone or FaceTime to get to know someone. Now might be the time to find that connection from someone else in the same boat!
Also, there is never any shame in getting down with yourself. Masturbation will not spread the novel coronavirus,2
and orgasms help release some of the endorphins your body craves when you’re feeling down, so it can at least help your mood. Now is the perfect time to get to know yourself if you’re recently single. Exploring your body and sexuality during this alone time will help you get to know what you ultimately like. Maybe you can’t go to an adult store right now, but you can always order a toy
online that will satisfy you in new ways. The point is to be positive about your isolation as much as possible. Everyone is trying to reach out and find out what soothes them during this time and there’s some value in including sex within that.
Stay in the moment
Possibly the biggest problem in the middle of this chaotic quarantine is chronic stress
. While there are many unknowns it’s all about being proactive and reminding yourself that you’re doing your best. Sex and intimacy
are great ways to get your mind off things when they’re a little too heavy (it’s next to impossible to stress while you’re receiving pleasure). And studies have shown that blood pressure is more stable under stress in those who had penile-vaginal intercourse than in those who had other or no sexual activity.3
Considering the current climate, sex should be a healing escape from reality with your partner. Especially if you haven’t been able to feel connected with them because you’ve been scrambling to take care of things before quarantine, now is the perfect time to slow down and come together. Higher stress in daily life is associated with lower levels of both sexual and relationship satisfaction as well as sexual activity,4
so take time to make each other feel special!
Make sure to focus on kissing and feeling close. Spend more time on foreplay. Don’t be hasty with your orgasm. If there’s something you know you want or need, ask for it! This is a time to bask in the feeling of being cared for and loved whenever you can.
Making sex a habit during quarantine can be very stabilizing. After sex, people report better moods, more meaning in life and higher productivity at work.5
For women, physical affection and sexual activity on one day predicted lower stress and better mood the following day.6
For anyone in an already satisfying relationship, having sex leads to less stress the following day as well.5
Also, if both you and your partner know you like more rigorous sex, a romp can count as a workout in lieu of all the gym time you’re missing. Getting enough exercise
when you’re cooped up is a huge priority now and sex burns calories while enhancing cognitive function.7
Maybe you’ve done all you can to stay healthy, but either you or your partner comes down with something while quarantined. Try not to panic. Monitor your symptoms as a precaution, but this doesn’t mean you have to abstain from sex in the meantime. Sex can boost immunity, and heightened
immunity while getting sick is always a good thing!
Just make sure that if you do decide to go for it that you try to focus on positions
that create more distance between you and your partner. Doggy style or reverse cowgirl are excellent for this and still offer both parties plenty of pleasure and connection. If you suffer from depression, though, keep in mind that there is evidence that partnered sexual activity is a risk factor for lowered immunity in women with depressive symptoms, but a possible resilience factor for men with depressive symptoms.8
Mutual masturbation is also an option for any couples feeling under the weather. Studies have shown men who climaxed
through masturbation demonstrated better immune system function.9
Watch each other masturbate and talk dirty from opposite sides of the room. Maybe do it at the same time and tell each other how to touch yourselves. Much like everything else in quarantine, this will force you to get creative to ensure you keep your mental and emotional closeness. Hopefully it will only strengthen your resolve to watch each other receive pleasure from afar!
While this is a trying time for everyone, try to remind yourself that no matter how isolation is treating you, you are not alone. The novel coronavirus is affecting every nation on earth, and even though going out isn’t an option, you don’t have to disconnect. Stay present, clean and safe with yourself and your partner and when this eventually ends, you’ll have some excellent quarantine sex memories to remind you it wasn’t all bad.References
- Meltzer, A. L., Makhanova, A., Hicks, L. L., French, J. E., McNulty, J. K., & Bradbury, T. N. (2017). Quantifying the Sexual Afterglow: The Lingering Benefits of Sex and Their Implications for Pair-Bonded Relationships. Psychological Science, 28(5), 587–598. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617691361
- Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). (2020, March 27). Retrieved March 29, 2020, from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/covid-sex-guidance.pdf
- Brody, S. (2006). Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile–vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity. Biological Psychology, 71(2).
- Bodenmann, G., Atkins, D. C., Schär, M., & Poffet, V. (2010). The association between daily stress and sexual activity. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(3), 271–279.
- Ein-Dor, T., & Hirschberger, G. (2012). Sexual healing: Daily diary evidence that sex relieves stress for men and women in satisfying relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 29, 126-139
- Burleson, M.H., Trevathan, W.R. & Todd, M. In the Mood for Love or Vice Versa? Exploring the Relations Among Sexual Activity, Physical Affection, Affect, and Stress in the Daily Lives of Mid-Aged Women. Arch Sex Behav 36, 357–368 (2007)
- Leuner, B., Glasper, E.R., & Gould, E. (2010). Sexual experience promotes adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus despite an initial elevation in stress hormones. PLoS ONE 5(7): e11597
- Lorenz, T., & van Anders, S. (2014). Interactions of sexual activity, gender, and depression with immunity. The journal of sexual medicine, 11(4), 966–979. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12111
- Haake, P., Krueger, T. H., Goebel, M. U., Heberling, K. M., Hartmann, U., & Schedlowski, M. (2004). Effects of sexual arousal on lymphocyte subset circulation and cytokine production in man. Neuroimmunomodulation, 11, 293-298.