As COVID-19 continues to impact people’s lives, it’s important to know how to handle certain situations. For people in relationships, marriages, or are currently dating caring for themselves and others around them may look a little different. For this reason, medical professionals have given their advice on intimacy in relationships during this time and whether it’s safe to partake in intimate practices.
Here’s what the CDC has shared about the virus and how it spreads:
- It spreads through respiratory droplets that can land in the mouth, nose or hand of people nearby when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
- Not everyone shows symptoms.
- It can be contracted by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it.
- You should maintain at least 6 feet of space between you and another person.
- You should cover your mouth and nose with cloth face covering.
- You should wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Dating/Going Out in Public
The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) says that different people come with different risks. Being intimate with new partners or people who don’t live in your household automatically puts you at risk. Dr. Huma Farid with Harvard Health Publishing says starting any new interactions should be considered carefully, as you are putting yourself and other loved ones in danger. Farid and ASHA suggests dating and being intimate over the phone in order to keep each other safe.
If you’re going out in public to meet someone, the CDC says to make sure you check what procedures and safety guidelines public places have in place to prevent spreading the virus. They also say you should take steps to protect yourself like wearing cloth facial covering, washing your hands often, social distance and limit your contact with surfaces that other people have already touched.
Intimacy and Safety
According to Dr. Farid and ASHA, intercourse or physical intimacy with another person may still be unsafe. “You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex,” ASHA says. The next best choice, they say, is someone you already live with.
Dr. Farid agrees that the only way to stay completely safe during this time is to adhere to the CDC’s 6-feet rule and go solo. However, she says this does not mean you must completely isolate yourself from your partner. “If both of you are healthy and feeling well, are practicing social distancing and have had no known exposure to anyone with COVID-19, touching, hugging, kissing, and sex are more likely to be safe,” Farid says.
If you or your partner have already contracted or recovered from the virus, the CDC suggests not sharing a bed/bedding, using a separate bathroom, self-quarantining, disinfecting every surface and monitoring symptoms until:
- You’ve been 3 days without a fever (without medication) AND
- Your symptoms have improved AND
- It’s been 10 days since your symptoms first appeared
What if your partner works in a job where there is a risk of catching the virus?
Dr. Farid says, “If your partner works in a high-risk field such as healthcare or has contact with the general public, decisions around intimacy or even self-quarantine in the absence of symptoms are personal. Some healthcare workers have quarantined themselves from their families, while others practice good hand hygiene and have a separate set of clothing dedicated for work. You and your partner should discuss what you are both comfortable with, since there are no evidence-based guidelines currently, given that this is a novel virus.”