“Does Social Distancing Mean I Shouldn’t Have Sex?”

COVID-19 (“the coronavirus”) is leaving a lot of confusion. As a sex therapist, I thought there was a topic that needs to be named and discussed. Really, we just don’t know a ton about this virus and new information keeps coming every hour. There are discussions about all kinds of activities that you should and shouldn’t do to prevent the spread of this virus. Stay out of groups, try to stay home, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face.

One thing that is missing from the conversation is whether or not you should be having sex right now. Social distancing is an effort to lower the risk of spread by staying a decent length (6 feet) away from other people.

Then there are the issues around how this virus spreads. As far as I know, there haven’t been studies that are specific to sex and it’s spread.

What we do know is that it spreads like a lot of other viruses via sneezing, coughing etc. So we can assume that kissing would definitely increase the risk.

Your Own Risk Analysis

As you can see by all of that, it’s complicated. However, everything we do comes with risk. Am I saying you should have sex without concerning yourself with COVID-19? Not at all. I’m saying the opposite. I’m saying you should consider it. Think about what your risks are and make a decision about sex from there.

For example, if you and your partner have really practiced a lot of social distancing and aren’t showing symptoms in your household, your risk is lower. Is there still risk? Of course. Only you can decide if that risk is low enough for you. However, you can use your judgement to identify the risk.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is probably the time for public hookups (from bars), play parties, swinging with new couples, etc. Don’t worry, I’ve got an idea down below of a consideration.

You also have to consider your geographic area. Different places are facing different levels of intensity with this virus. So if you’re in the most intense areas, you’re more likely to more cautious.

Sex as Healing, Fun, Comfort

There are some things you can do however, and you don’t have to give up your sexuality entirely.

  1. Identify the Risk and Enjoy Sex With Your Partner. Look, it’s a scary and vulnerable time. If you’re low risk, enjoy sex with your partner. It’s a way to connect, have fun, etc. However, please don’t assume you’re low risk if you follow no social distancing, and think you can simply spot someone who is sick with this virus. You can’t. What I mean, is if you’re at a higher risk. You’ve been traveling, you’re in the medical field, you’re having to be out and about, see suggestions below.
  2. Mindful Masturbation. Masturbation is often used as self-soothing. That is fine. But if you have some extra time and space, why not explore masturbation in a different way. Learn more about your body. Explore it without only the end goal of orgasm. Instead, identify different sensations, pleasure, imagery, etc.
  3. Virtual Fun. Remember that sex party you can’t attend for awhile? Maybe a virtual play party is an option. I know it’s definitely different, but different doesn’t have to be bad. You can also have virtual fun with your partner if you’re both at higher risk and you can practice social distancing. Who knows, if you haven’t done that before, it might be enjoyable.

This is an imperfect list and it may change as new information comes out. However, remember that this is all temporary. It’s frustrating to have to make so many changes, but you’re doing it for the greater good.

We also recognize that this is a stressful time. If you’re needing help navigating this. We’re offering online sessions. Don’t hesitate to reach out.