Whether you're three years into a long-term relationship or three Tinder messages away from your next hookup, you may be feeling a tinge of concern over how the coronavirus will affect your sex life. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the spread of COVID-19, or the disease coronavirus causes, is a "rapidly evolving situation." And since the primary way coronavirus is spreading is through respiratory droplets, which are formed when someone coughs or sneezes, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact during the crisis — not a great sign for sexual escapades.
Natasha Bhuyan, MD at One Medical tells Bustle that the virus cannot be transmitted through semen or vaginal fluid. The real risk factor? Making out. "Coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets that contain the virus, so yes, it can be spread through kissing," she says. Past kissing, any sort of physical touch can be cause for concern, which includes anything from cuddling to manual sex. "If you touch someone (or something) that has the virus on it and then touch your face, the virus can enter your system through your nose or mouth," she explains.
Since the virus is so contagious and symptoms can take up to 14 days, Dr. Bhuyan emphasizes the importance of being extra prudent with your partner(s). Though you may be looking forward to going on a date night or super excited to get frisky with someone, if you've been feeling a little under the weather or notice that your partner's been sick, take a rain check.
You can certainly amp up the dirty talk. Perhaps you discover you both love getting it on using voice notes.
According to Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, licensed clinical psychologist at Therapy Group of NYC, while remaining informed about best health practices during the crisis can be helpful, absorbing too much information about the coronavirus in the news can heighten anxiety and hinder intimacy. "Outbreaks like coronavirus increase anxiety, paranoia, depressive symptoms, and, if you or your loved one needs to self-quarantine, it can result in social isolation and feelings of loneliness," Lopez Witmer tells Bustle. "It’s important to educate yourself on safety, symptoms, and protocols from accurate, reliable sources, but don’t go overboard and take breaks from media (including social media) as much as possible."
But there's good news: Even if concerns about the coronavirus are affecting your sex life, there are still plenty of ways to build intimacy with your partner(s) from afar. First and foremost, Lopez Witmer suggests having video chat dates or otherwise modifying your original plans. Instead of going out for a fancy dinner date, cook at home over candlelight — you can even take turns painting each other, perfectly setting the mood. "Part of staying healthy is maintaining connection, intimacy, and sex," she says. "Support each other in staying healthy during this time and talk openly about what you need and what you’re feeling."
Masturbating together, over the phone or on video chat, can be a super sexy way to connect.
For Lola Jean, sex educator and mental health professional, the absence of physical touch can be a great way to encourage creativity and versatility in your relationship(s). "Intimacy can spending quality time, sharing an experience, or even small gestures and gifts," she tells Bustle. When you can't walk the walk, you and your boo can certainly amp up the dirty talk. Perhaps you discover you both love getting it on using voice notes. While actively combating coronavirus is hardly an aphrodisiac, staying away from your partner(s) may actually increase your desire for them, and lead you to uncover new ways to turn each other on.
If you're not trying to get up close and personal, or you're self-quarantined but still want to have sex, Jean suggests trying guided masturbation with your partner. Tell your SO what you want them to do and for how long, then switch off who gets to call the shots. Masturbating together, over the phone or on video chat, can be a super sexy way to connect. But if you're getting it on with your bad self, Lindsay Wynn, vaginal health and wellness expert and founder of vaginal care line Momotaro Apotheca, reminds you to properly clean your toys after use, to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Watching ethical porn together can help you keep the spark alive.
Additionally, if you're experiencing coronavirus anxiety and are unable to get in the moment, role-playing, or embracing fantasy can help you recenter yourself, Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, relationship and sex therapist, tells Bustle. Whether you Skype your boo wearing a wig or experiment with sending sexy texts from a new POV, stepping into someone else's shoes may help you relieve tension and connect deeper.
New York-based sexologist Shelby Sells says that sexting can be a great alternative to in-person dates as well. "It can also be quite physically stimulating, especially if you have toys where one partner can control the vibrator wirelessly from another location," she tells Bustle. Wynn adds that watching ethical porn with your SO or sending them clips can help you keep the spark alive.
Dr. Bhuyan emphasizes that unless you have reason to believe you or your partner(s) have a higher risk of contracting the virus, you don't need to completely isolate yourself from each other — or the rest of the world.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.
Shelby Sells New York-based sexologist
Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, relationship and sex therapist
Lola Jean, sex educator and mental health professional