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Sex in isolation and beyond

There have been a lot of different directives about sex during COVID-19, from “no, no, and no” to “sure, go for it”.

This can be very confusing – and what are we supposed to do now that restrictions are being lifted but we are still meant to be practising distancing?

So, let me break it down: think about it like you are in a bubble and you are not meant to have contact with those outside of your bubble (1.5–2 metres).

If you have been isolating with a partner or lover, then continue as you are, but if you have not had any sexual contact, then the previous restrictions still apply.

Remember that COVID-19 is passed through droplets that you breathe, so any activity where you are breathing on each other is a risk.

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No sex at all (with those inside or outside your bubble) if you are:

  • in isolation due to possible exposure to COVID-19
  • waiting on the results of your COVID-19 test
  • unwell.

No physical sex, but virtual sex is OK (with those outside your bubble) if you are:

  • not living with your sexual partner
  • single
  • having casual sex.

Physical sex is OK (with those inside your bubble) if you are:

  • living with your sexual partner and neither of you are in the above exclusion groups
  • visiting your sexual or romantic partner (if they are not an exposure risk or immunocompromised), in some states – check the laws in your state, as they are changing rapidly.

There are some things to consider if you do live with your sexual partner:

  • Be safe and communicate.
  • Create a private space – it’s good to have time and space apart.
  • Embrace fun and novelty, and be silly and playful.
  • Try new things, perfect dirty talk, make a home movie, go on a naked date, do naked yoga or housework, practise a sex skill, explore fantasy, and let your imagination run wild.
  • Check out sex and love quizzes like Love Languages and Erotic Blueprint.
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What is not OK:

  • in-person casual sex (this contravenes physical distancing and the person is an unknown risk)
  • kissing and rimming (COVID-19 is present in saliva and faeces; the virus has been found in seminal fluid and blood, but more research is needed to know if it’s sexually transmitted).

What is OK:

  • masturbation
  • mutual masturbation (2 metres apart)
  • virtual sex (cybersex, phone, and sexting)
  • porn
  • toys.

There are some things to consider when engaging in virtual sex:

  • What are your wants and needs? Be clear about what you are after.
  • Is the experience going to be private? What is the privacy of the space and the platform?
  • How good is the connection? You don’t want to be cut off at a crucial moment.
  • Consent and negotiation of boundaries. What are you both into? What are hard and soft limits?
  • Privacy of images. You could share images without your face or using dim lighting.

Above all: be safe, communicate, negotiate, and stay connected with yourself, your own body, and others.

If you have a question about sex or relationships for Richelle, send it anonymously via email or our contact form to be answered in the new Ask a Sexologist column.

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