Go solo or go home: The only way to have sex during a pandemic

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Media: Mariyam Quaisar

A poster within Little Building asking students to practice safe sex.

By Mariyam Quaisar

“If you’re not going to wear a mask, at least wear a condom,” posters around Emerson dorm buildings read. However, safe sex means a lot more than just wearing a condom. 

Just because there’s a pandemic happening doesn’t mean people have stopped experiencing sexual cravings, especially college students. College is seen by many as a time to explore yourself, your sexuality, and sexual boundaries. But how is one supposed to do that when COVID-19 precautions don’t allow close contact with others?

I attempted to research steps toward COVID-safe hookups, but the results are admittedly disappointing. The coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets when people are in close contact, whether or not they’re engaged in sexual activity. So hook-ups are extremely risky if one is looking to avoid the virus completely.

According to the American Sexual Health Association and the Mayo Clinic, direct contact with saliva can easily pass the virus around, which rules out kissing. The virus is not found in vaginal fluid, but it can be found in feces of those infected. I am not going to outright say to not lick anyone’s anus like NYC’s Department of Health, but that would be a good activity to avoid right now. A recent study also found traces of the virus in semen of those infected or recovering from COVID-19. It is not known if it can be transmitted through semen; however, sources are unsure if rimming and anal sex will spread the virus. 

So what options does this leave? Masturbation. 

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Going solo is the safest sexual activity when close contact could mean contracting the coronavirus. Whether it be from yourself or a toy, masturbation is the least risky way to find sexual pleasure. 

And with the help of modern technology, masturbation does not always have to be a solo act. It’s time to use your computer for more than just homework. Video dates, sexting, and phone sex have become more popular during the world’s current “no-touch” crisis as people have found ways to be romantic and intimate through a screen. Masturbating with your significant other after a beautiful Zoom dinner could be a fun way to keep a sexual connection with your partner. Masurbating together with physical distance and face coverings could also be an option. 

There are also ways to distract yourself from sexual urges if masturbating just isn’t doing the trick. Break out a sweat from lifting weights and cardio rather than humping and rolling. Go for a walk outside into the beautiful Boston streets and parks with a good book. Find that movie you’ve been meaning to watch for a while. And then if you still can’t focus, you can try masturbating again. That’s what it’s going to come down to for some time, especially as a college student. 

Keep in mind, young people can get sick too. According to the CDC, there have been about 400 teenage and young adult deaths related to COVID-19. Nobody wants to knowingly contribute to another person’s severe illness or death by being irresponsible. If we collectively act consciously, this will all go away sooner. And eventually, we can go back to our normal sex lives. 

Remember, if you do decide to have sex during COVID-19, make sure your partner is risk free. Just as you would ask if they have a condom or have gotten tested for STDs, make sure to ask if they are experiencing any symptoms for the coronavirus and how often they are getting tested. It is also important to acknowledge that COVID tests only show a snapshot in time. So even if you were tested the day before, that does not mean you’re completely safe from the virus. The Mayo Clinic advises to avoid kissing and to wear a mask during sexual activity. Make sure to wash your hands, body, and any sex toys before and after sexual activity. Use soap and alcohol wipes to clean the area where you are having sex. Lastly, condoms and dental dams are extremely necessary when having safe sex. 

Happy safe sex!