How Safe Is It To Have Safe Sex During The Pandemic?

We’re all social distancing at the moment. And that begs the question: how can you have safe sex in the time of COVID-19 & self-quarantine? Is it safe to have sex during this pandemic?

First, the facts. COVID-19, the disease brought on by the novel coronavirus, is caused by direct person-to-person touch or by close individuals (within six feet) to each other–since it is thought that the virus is expelled from respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which you may then inhale. You may even pick it up from infected surfaces if you then touch your face without cleaning your hands properly first and therefore introduce the pathogen into your body.

Sex can contribute to spreading the coronavirus. You are clearly close enough to someone when you are naked on top of one another, and you’re likely kissing, or at least breathing heavily.

But it’s not incurred directly from sex. “The coronavirus is a respiratory virus. It may be transmitted through your intimate touch and saliva. However, it’s not directly spread genitally,” Mark Surrey, MD, a medical professor in the department of gynecology and obstetrics at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, tells Health.

That difference matters, because safe sex during the pandemic depends on your current relationship state and, well, why you’re doing safe sex in the first place.

If You’re Single and Dating

Due to state-mandated shelter-in-place guidelines or social distancing, it is not okay to go out on dates unless those dates are over FaceTime or another video chat app.

The New York City Health Department lately declared guidelines on COVID-19 safe sex practices, advising against having sex with anyone outside of your home. (In other words, someone you live with.) The concept of having a “sex buddy,” where you and they just have sex with one another during the pandemic, isn’t recommended, written ob-gyn Jen Gunter at The New York Times. Firstly, the concept goes against social distancing, and you do not understand how closely (if at all) they are staying away from others, she cautioned.

What type of sex can people who are single and on the dating scene have? The New York City guidelines set it this way: “You are your safest sex spouse.” Masturbation is safe and satisfying, and the health department advises washing your hands and any safe sex toys for 20 seconds with soap before using them, which is also a good idea as a general hygiene habit.

If You’re In Relationship But Not Living Together

If you and your spouse are not quarantining together, you too must social distance from one another. And social distancing sex means sexting (images or words) or having phone sex. There is undoubtedly absolutely no physical contact with either option.

If you don’t understand how to begin or what to get you (and your spouse ) off, consider dropping your voice a bit, with an app you save just for sexting (just to help you “switch” to a hot mindset), and listening and responding to what they say instead of planning your every movement. Video sex is certainly COVID-19-safe, but not necessarily socially secure. If you have sext videos, do it with a trusted partner, or one you know won’t save or take images or video of what you’re doing virtually and send them to others.

If You’re Living With A Spouse

Does your partner have COVID-19? Or do you have? If the response to either question is yes, or you’ve suspected exposure and are in isolation/quarantine, you should not do not have any sex or physical contact right now. You should stay in separate bedrooms, says the CDC.

Consider taking precautions if you or your spouse fall to a higher risk group (such as they have a severe condition like diabetes or immunocompromised) by choosing to avoid the physical safe sex entirely, advises The New York City Health Department.

If you and your relationship partner have never been exposed to anyone with COVID-19, are showing no symptoms, feel healthy, and don’t have any reason to believe you may be carrying the virus, you can do sex, says Dr. Surrey.

D0 HIV Medications Protect Against Covid-19?

Some studies say that the protease inhibitor in PrEP shields against coronavirus. Does that mean individuals on PrEP (or H.I.V.-positive individuals using the same medications as part of the treatment) can continue to have sex without being as stressed?  NO!

There’s no evidence to indicate the medications in PrEP are beneficial in protecting against coronavirus.

PrEP, also called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV, involves taking two medications — Emtricitabine and Tenofovir– daily to protect against HIV exposure from sexual intercourse. Descovy and Truvada are both FDA-approved names for this combination of medicines.

These two medicines may also be taken as part of a treatment plan for individuals living with HIV; emtricitabine and Tenofovir inhibit the reverse enzyme transcriptase, which is used by HIV to build more copies of itself but isn’t used by coronaviruses.

Just as not all antibiotic medicines work for all viruses, not all antiviral medications work for all illnesses.

The confusion is understandable considering two other drugs are taken for HIV — ritonavir and lopinavir, which act on the enzyme protease — have been examined as a treatment for Covid-19. The first publication didn’t show benefit, but an additional study is ongoing.

In the meantime, we would assume nothing, but social distance and hand-washing can protect us from Covid-19, while masks may help us save others.

Having Sex For A Baby

For many women, the thought of putting their dreams of having a baby on hold is painful. “There’s the question of whether or not women should be getting pregnant at this time,” states Dr. Surrey, who’s the associate director in the Southern California Reproductive Center, Beverly Hills. So, is it safe to have sex…to have a baby? There’s some evidence that indicates vertical transmission–or mom-to-baby transmission of the virus during pregnancy or delivery–is possible. (But more research on this has to be done since this isn’t definitive.)

However, there’s a lot of speculation that we are in for a baby boom at the year’s end. In the case you were to conceive a baby while one spouse had COVID-19 (remember, people, can be asymptomatic, which implies you might not know if you’ve it), it doesn’t appear that the virus is transmitted through sperm or eggs, so the resulting embryo should not be affected, says Dr. Surrey.

Again, keep in mind that the comprehension of the new coronavirus, and how it spreads continues to change. “For couples seeking to procreate at this time, I suggest being more cautious about hand hygiene and avoiding social contact, but it is tricky to think of clear parameters,” says Dr. Surrey.

We’ve all heard about furlough fertility and blizzard babies. When we are stuck inside with a different individual, the belief is, people turn into safe sex. And if you’re fertile, heterosexual, and not using contraception, the result is a baby boom nine months later.  Except, cooped-up conceptions are a myth

The fable may have started from the New York City blackout of November 1965, where there were observations of delivery and labor units being deluged nine months later. Yet, after the data was examined, there was no baby boom.

You may say, what we’re undergoing is different from a single night or two of being homebound because of a blizzard or blackout.  The best comparison is likely from the flu pandemic of 1918. Afterward, there was a drop in the birthrate of 5% to 15 percent in the USA and the three Scandinavian countries.

There are considered to be two causes (bear in mind there can be other factors which were missed considering we are taking a look at data from a hundred years ago): first, an increased risk of first trimester miscarriages due to illness during the pandemic (we don’t have any information to tell us there’s a higher chance of miscarriage with Covid-19, so please do not panic and extrapolate).

Second is something we might see again: less sex as a result of stress — economic risk, illness, you name it — and the decreased availability of sexual partners. That you may seem familiar, and thus, a baby boom toward 2020’s end or in 2021 seems improbable.

What are your opinions on trying to get pregnant?

Based on limited data, pregnant individuals do not seem to be at increased risk for acute illness from coronavirus. However, pregnancy increases the chance of severe outcomes for respiratory ailments, such as influenza, so pregnant people are presently considered an at-risk population for Covid-19. The uncertainty of preterm birth may also increase if you get infected with the new coronavirus.

With so many unknowns about what to expect when you’re expecting during a pandemic, here are a few considerations:

  • Pregnancy raises interactions with the medical care system — blood tests, ultrasounds, blood pressure tests — and interactions with the medical care system increase your chance of exposure to coronavirus.

Many medical Centers are attempting to limit routine visits and instead are conducting some appointments virtually; many are requesting that spouses do not accompany ladies to these appointments.

  • When you’ve got an underlying medical illness, like high blood pressure or diabetes, or had a complication, such as preterm delivery, in a previous pregnancy, then you’re at higher risk for complications in your next pregnancy and will most likely need more access to the health care system.
  • For those who have an unexpected pregnancy complication, you might require an emergency department. Along with potentially increasing your risk of exposure, if the hospital is at capacity with patients of coronavirus or has no supply of PPEs, there may be an impact on your care.

Credit: The Doctors

While most individuals have uncomplicated pregnancies, many have taken for granted the capability to get the medical care we need in an actual emergency. We can’t do that anymore.

You may have seen a lot of articles on the coronavirus and sex, and yet none include instructions for those of us who are very high-risk for complications because of pre-existing conditions. Is sex OK for these groups? Is it wiser to avoid it? I have some issues with asthma and a history of acute pneumonia. What if someone like me knows during corona times about intimacy? — Phoebe, 26, Berkeley, Calif.

Unfortunately, we don’t have enough medical recommendations based on specific risk factors. It is not because we have not considered these groups — because we have substantial knowledge gaps.

As with everybody — those low- or high-risk categories –, it is advised to not have safe sex with anyone outside your family and no sex with anyone within your family if they have symptoms (such as a dry cough or fever) or if they have a known vulnerability and are quarantined and/or awaiting analyzing effects.

If you live with your spouse, and they aren’t symptomatic, we would think about their vulnerability risk: Are they going out of the house? If so, is it to work in a condition with a higher exposure risk? Or, if it is merely to the grocery store, do they take action to mitigate the vulnerability, such as social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene?

And, of course, bear in mind that they might still be infected and asymptomatic.

Additionallysex is not the only activity that could expose you. Regrettably, we don’t know where to rank it concerning risk compared with other activities that happen in the same home.

What about sharing food, considering many of us tend to spray droplets when we eat? What about sitting on the sofa watching a movie and laughing, which sprays droplets?

If you’re at higher risk because of pre-existing conditions, we would consider these factors and then consult them with your doctor so you can determine what makes the most sense for you provided your health conditions and your living situation. Everyone should pay attention to hand hygiene — and home hygiene — cleaning surfaces after use, since these actions may decrease transmission between members of the household.

The more social distancing and hygiene measures, you can put in place, the lower your risk of transmission.

Posted in Sexual Health

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