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How To Stay Safe By Practicing Excellent Hygiene During COVID Isolation Or Anytime

How To Stay Safe By Practicing Excellent Hygiene During COVID Isolation Or Anytime

Practicing good personal hygiene helps to limit the spread of germs and minimizes the risk to yourself and your partner.

sexual health and coronavirus

Keeping safe during this time is about minimizing the risk of spreading or catching COVID-19. (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

*NOTE: For informational purposes only. Consult your local medical authority for advice.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization


You may be isolating during this time of uncertainty while still wanting to maintain as much of your normal life as possible. Human contact is essential for our happiness, and if you have someone in your life whom you happen to be erotically intimate with, or who you want to be intimate with, you may be asking yourself if it’s safe to sexually engage.

This article will assist readers in making safe decisions by explaining how the Coronavirus is contracted, how to navigate our sexual lives during a threat and remind readers of regular safe sex practices they may have forgotten about or not have clearly understood before.

The intent of this outline is to help readers stay sexually and physically healthy through this unsettling time and beyond.

How does the coronavirus disease spread?

First, it’s important to understand that COVID-19 is spread primarily through droplets from a person’s respiratory system. So, if a person were to sneeze or couch, little particles would disperse into the air. If that person is infected, then the infection also goes into the air, and either onto a surface or into someone else’s respiratory system.

The virus has also been found to be contagious simply through breathing. So, simply inhaling near an infected person could put you at risk even without being near someone who has recently sneezed or coughed.

An infected person could also spread the virus by touching a surface that someone else touches. If an uninfected person touches the infected surface with their hands after, then puts their hands around their mouth, eyes or nose, then the uninfected person will become infected.

Just as with STIs and STDs, many people who are infected with coronavirus may never know they carry the virus, as they might show no symptoms at all or very mild symptoms resembling a common cold or flu.

Just as we can get sexually transmitted infections by asymptomatic partners, we can also contract other illnesses, such as COVID-19, by asymptomatic people.

The good news is that, even if you or a partner do become infected, you’ll most likely survive, but nobody wants to experience even the mild flu and it’s socially irresponsible to not do our best to prevent others from being exposed to something we might have.

Just as a person can be legally punished for violating CDC guidelines concerning coronavirus, so can they face legal repercussions for violating public health laws concerning sexually transmitted diseases.

In fact, each US state has its own laws against exposing someone else to an STD or STI. Depending on where you live, it may actually be imprisonable to pass along infections and diseases. It is our responsibility to ensure both our own and public health and safety as much as possible.

Coronavirus: Safety Tips for You

To do this, we need to see to it that we’re using the safest and most sanitary practices possible.

If you are following CDC guidelines, do not believe you have been in contact with any infected persons and feel healthy with no fever or symptoms of any sort, then you are as safe as you can be to engage in your normal safe sex practices with a partner, as long as they, too, have been doing the same and also feel perfectly healthy. If you live with your partner, you can do as you’ve always done with them without worry.

If you don’t live with your partner, you may also be able to safely engage with them, but it’s important to give critical consideration to who and what they’ve been in contact with that you haven’t been in contact with. If you are both healthy and have been closely following CDC regulations, then you can engage with them as you’ve always done.

However, it’s important to follow your state’s isolation rules. If you live in a city that’s been ordered to stay home, you need to pay careful attention to that. Any time the two (or more) of you depart after being together may increase the risk of getting and transmitting Coronavirus.

The act of sexual intercourse itself does not spread the Coronavirus, but, as discussed above, touching contaminated surfaces and breathing in pathogens does. Saliva, the stuff we can breathe in when other people sneeze bits of it out, can also be contaminated. Since these things are involved in sex and foreplay, it would not be possible for an infected person to intimately engage with an uninfected person and not put the uninfected person at risk.

You should add this to your coronavirus hygiene checklist

Know your partner, follow government guidelines, practice excellent hygiene and self-monitor for symptoms. If you put all of these into practice, you don’t need to worry about catching the newest virus during erotic moments.

Of course, as responsible adults and considerate partners, it’s important to continue practicing smart, safe sex even after COVID=19 rates drop and things are back to normal again.

The following will provide some sexual education to help you move forward in your intimate activities with minimal fear of catching or spreading anything at all.

Here’s a preview of what we should all be keeping in mind when we’re engaging in close contact, whether we are or aren’t facing a viral pandemic:

  • Saliva can act as a carrier for viruses and bacteria.
  • STD tests are advised between all unprotected partners can be accessed discreetly and at little to no cost.
  • Many cases of infections and diseases are asymptomatic.
  • Saliva in place of lubricant can potentially cause infections.
  • Not all lubes can be safely used with all toys or condoms.
  • Toys need to be washed after every use.
  • Our genitals can house bacteria if not properly washed.
  • Douche can exacerbate infections.

Just as saliva can transfer the coronavirus, it can also transfer a number of STDs. Some people may participate in oral sex thinking that it’s safer than other forms of sex without realizing that it can also present several risks.

Here’s a fun fact: Listerine, the popular mouthwash, has actually been proven to help control the spread of some STDs in couples of all orientations. While this should, by no means, be your only safe sex practice, proper, daily use of it can assist you in preventing the spread of infections, most notably gonorrhea.

The way to be certain that you and your partner are free of anything transmittable is to get an STD panel.

STD panels are blood tests that should be taken before engaging in unprotected sex with any new partner. If you are unable to see a practitioner of your preference, there are free centers that will discreetly provide these services to you. The blood draws are simple and quick and are an excellent practice if you are serious about your health and the health of your partners.

It is advisable to have this done in between every unprotected partner because, just like Coronavirus, sexually transmitted viruses and infections can also be asymptomatic.

Because saliva can contain sexually transmitted viruses, it’s important to be wise about who we share it with and how we use it. How would we know who’s safe? Use that saliva as lubrication for conversation.

Partners who are mature enough to engage in physical intimacy with one another should also be mature enough to have candid conversations and be transparent about their sexual history and health.

Many may use saliva as a sexual lubricant, but even if the saliva is completely free of viruses or diseases, it still contains digestive enzymes and bacteria that can upset the natural flora fauna of the vagina and cause infections.

While some people may opt to take this chance over having unlubricated sex (and therefore risking microtears in our soft tissue) the best practice to use lubrication designed for erotic encounters. The use of lubricant makes sex significantly more enjoyable for many and should be just as commonplace as the use of condoms.

However, it’s important to remember that not all lube is safe with all condoms. Latex condoms are safe with water-based or silicone lube, but not with oils as the oils break down latex and can create ruptures and deterioration. Oils are safe to use with lambskin or polyurethane condoms only.

Also remember that lambskin condoms only protect against pregnancy, not against STDs, while polyurethane and latex protect against both.

Also, while silicone lube is safe to use with all condoms, it is not safe to use on silicone sex toys, as silicone lube on silicone sex toys acts in a similar way that oil on latex does and it will deteriorate the toy.

Living in the times of the COVID pandemic has made many people extra conscious and cautious with their washing habits. While this may seem excessive, there’s some good to be taken from it. We really do need to be more aware of the importance of cleaning and how we use things.

This carries over into our sex lives, too, whether we do or don’t have a partner.

Sex and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Are sex toys safe?

Toys and anything used to enhance or add to sexual pleasure are surfaced that can carry pathogens and they should be cleaned before and after every use just as we should clean ourselves before and after intimate encounters.

If you’re using a toy that goes inside of you but may potentially go inside of someone else, treat it as you would an actual partner and put a condom on it. Take the condom off after use and wash the toy with hot water and soap, or a special adult toy cleaning solution, or both.

If you’re using a device that does not penetrate, remember that these can still pick up fluids from other places and should also be washed with hot water and soap or a specialty cleanings product meant specifically for it. STDs can live on surfaces for up to a week after contact with the host. Make sure all objects used during sex (or articles of clothing) get washed promptly.

Our genitals are another important thing to remember when washing up. Both men and women have folds and crevasses that hide places that love to collect bacteria. Simply getting in the shower or splashing ourselves over a sink is not sufficient enough cleaning.

Just as we wash the objects we use with warm soap and water, we need to do that as well, paying close attention to what’s under the foreskin or between the labia.

If men have foreskin, they should remember to always pull it back when washing and give it a good scrub to remove invisible fluids and bacteria that often gets stuck between the penis and the skin. Women’s labia can act similarly in trapping bacteria.

Ladies, your vaginas (the interior of your vulvas) are self-cleansing but your external bits are not. Just as men need to be thorough with their foreskin and even testicles, we need to not be afraid to get into the parts that often go overlooked.

Women should never use douche as that rocks the vagina’s natural PH and can cause infections. If you are a woman who believes you should douche because you have a bad smell, there’s a good chance that’s a bacterial infection that can only be resolved by getting antibiotics from a doctor.

Trying to douche it away will not only prove unsuccessful but may compound the problem by also giving you a yeast infection, which can be passed along to a partner’s mouth or genitals.

Takeaways

While this is, by no means, an exhaustive list of safe sex practices, it’s one that contains advice that can help you keep yourself and your partner(s) safe, happy and confident about their sexual wellness.

Stay safe out there during the coronavirus and beyond and remember that regardless of how much work it may feel like, the work of cautious sexuality far outweighs the negative impacts of catching a contagious and potentially life-changing disease.

Respect for our wellness and that of our intimate partners is the smartest, most loving and sexiest thing we can practice.

What are you doing to reduce your risk of COVID-19? Let us know your views on the same.

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Valerie Baber, MA

Valerie delivers discussion on the topics of sex, society, and health to help battle stigma and increase empathy for others....

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