With countries under lockdown and everybody left with no option but to stay at home, many couples and singles have been struggling with questions about the impact of the virus on their sex lives. Since people are stuck at home and have more time at hand than earlier, is it okay to just have sex with your partner? And if yes, what are the safe sex practices to be kept in mind? Or, is it alright to experience a loss of libido in these times? We spoke with gynaecologist Dr Shiwani Goel and Dr Suruchi Desai to seek answers to all the questions that have left you wondering what to do and what not to do about coronavirus and sex.
Is sexual transmission possible?
“As of now,” the Dr Goel says, “coronavirus is not sexually transmissible. It cannot be transmitted via the vagina or through anal sex. But anal sex is not advisable because of the thinner lining of the anus that increases the risk of infection. There are however no studies or researches claiming the transmission of the virus through sexual intercourse.”
Dr Desai says, “COVID-19 has been found in feces of people who are infected with the virus. However, it has not yet been found in semen or vaginal fluid.”
Does HIV make you vulnerable to corona?
Dr. Shiwani asserts, “People with HIV are definitely immune-compromised patients and there has been a constant concern for people with lowered immunity like kids, those over sixty years of age, those in the co-morbid state that is, those having diabetes, hypertension, etc., they are more prone to coronavirus.” HIV patients are thus advised to be on their regular medicines to keep their immune systems stronger. Just like everyone, they too should be practicing the same rules for isolation.
Coronavirus and Sex: All your Questions Answered – To what extent is intimacy okay and what are the precautions one must take.
Risks associated with intimacy
“Social distancing is being called the crux of the containment of COVID-19. We are supposed to maintain a distance of about six feet, as per the advisories. This is because of the mode of transmission of the virus, which is through respiratory droplets. And intimacy is something quite opposite to the physical distancing that is to be abided by. If you are with your partner within the household, who you know is staying at home, having no contact with the outside world and has tested negative, then intimacy is not harmful. But if anyone of you is going outside or is meeting people from the external environment, even vendors, then intimacy might not be that safe,” affirms the Dr. Shiwani.
Dr. Suruchi, who works at Navanati Super Speciality Hospital in Mumbai, reveals “You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex. The next safest partner is someone you live with, monogamy during this time is the safest.”
Advice to new partners
Safe sex practices in the corona times
Dr Goel says, “The first recommendation would be to try to avoid being intimate. This is the time when social distancing is being emphasized as probably the only solution to combat the transmission of the virus. But if it is very much desirable, have it only with your household partner, no new partners are preferable at this point in time. As such, sexual mode of transmission has not yet been established, but we know, that the coronavirus is transmissible via respiratory droplets and kissing being a part of sexual intimacy, makes it unsafe to some extent.”
Dr Desai talks about the importance of hand hygiene, “Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva or feces, especially during oral or anal sex. Washing up before and after sex is more important than ever. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”
Is it okay to use sex toys?
Dr Goel advises, “The way we are performing the steps to keep other items clean, the same has to be followed with your sex toys. Proper cleaning, washing, sanitizing them, and only then are they to be used. Thus, we need to maintain the sanitation of these before using them.”
Saavriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV