Disclaimer: This content was written and published during the COVID-19 Alert levels and lockdown in 2020. We’re keeping the article up as we think there’s still useful info and advice in here – but please remember the context in which it was written is way different to how things may be now.
After weeks of self-isolation, we’re all adjusting into our new routines. But physical distancing is still a priority for reducing transmissions of COVID-19 – so how does that affect our sex lives?
To help make things more clear, we’ve put together our top 5 tips for playing safe in this unprecedented time! We can’t pick and choose with these if we want to stamp out COVID - everyone needs to take action in all of these areas.
Remember as well that things are changing all the time with this global pandemic, and as more data is released, we learn more about the way the virus is transmitted. Keep an eye on our website or your favourite news channel to keep up-to-date!
1. Don’t have sex if you have any symptoms
Things to look out for are a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle/joint aches, shortness of breath, loss or smell or taste. Be ready to cancel if you’re feeling even slightly unwell, and make sure you’re having open conversations about COVID-19 symptoms so they feel comfortable doing the same.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms, you should cancel your plans and contact your GP or Healthline to get tested. This isn’t ‘flaking out’ – it’s keeping your partners (and their friends and family) safe!
2. Contact tracing
The first thing to know about contact tracing is that if you're diagnosed with COVID-19, someone from the Ministry of Health or your local DHB will need to get in touch with everyone you've been in contact with. So your job is to make it easy for them - the best way is to collect phone numbers or email addresses. Especially from hook-ups.
Update: We now have the COVID tracing app and Bluetooth tracing. Assuming your hookup isn't going to have a QR code on their door, at least make sure you've got Bluetooth tracing turned on before you turn each other on. This is especially good for anyone who is having completely anonymous sex - you don't have to know each other's names, but if Bluetooth is on, you'll get an alert if you may have been at risk of COVID.
As a rule, you shouldn’t have sex with anyone if you can’t get in contact with them later (this is also a good rule for other STIs!). This will help reduce any further spread if you do test positive – if we can keep new clusters contained, there’s a much smaller chance that we’ll need to go back to Alert Levels 3 or 4.
Collect phone numbers, email addresses, or at the very least follow them on Instagram. Any platform that you can send them a private message on is good.
Don’t rely on location-based apps like Grindr or Tinder though – if you do get diagnosed with COVID-19, this will make it very hard for the contact tracing team to track your partners down. And if someone blocks you or deletes their account, it’ll become much more difficult to contact them, putting our whole community at risk.
3. Limit your numbers
Like New Zealand extending our travel bubble to Australia (fingers crossed!), it makes sense to open your own sexual bubble slowly and carefully. If you haven’t had sex in weeks, your instinct might be to jump straight in with a 20-person orgy – but this isn’t the safest thing to do when we’re still trying to keep a pandemic contained. Choose one or two regular sexual partners and expand your bubble to them only, and leave at least 5 days between encounters (keep it to the weekends!).
Want to start expanding your bubble? Try to create a closed loop of partners - introduce your partners to each other and start an exclusive f*ck-bubble!
Whatever you do, keep it under ten people at a time – the alert level regulations apply no matter the type of gathering.
4. Avoid exchanging fluids
It can be difficult to not share bodily fluids in sex, but there are ways to reduce the amount of fluid shared. We know that COVID is spread primarily through droplets from the respiratory system, so having sex without kissing can help prevent transmission. Try sex with a mask on – work it into a PPE roleplay fantasy!
The virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in the butt and in semen, so rimming should also be avoided, and try not to let anyone cum inside you – whether that’s in your butt, vagina, front-hole, mouth, or on your face.
Don’t use saliva as lube (it’s not really very good for that anyway), and put a condom or glove on if you’re fingering someone. Wash your hands and body thoroughly before and after sex, and don’t share any equipment used for drugs (this includes needles and pipes, and sharing joints, cigarettes and vapes).
5. Break the chain
A silver lining of the dark cloud of COVID-19 is that it presents us with an incredible opportunity to break the chain of transmission for other viruses - like, say, HIV! There are an estimated 700 people living with undiagnosed HIV in Aotearoa. This means that, if every single one of us manages to get tested before the steamy reunions once we leave the alert levels - we will be able to help these people learn their status and be connected to treatment (which will stop them from being able to transmit - thanks to U=U). The same goes for all other STIs, so ask for a full STI screening (syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia).
Call your GP or Sexual Health Centre to find a time that works for you, or book in for a test at an NZAF centre.