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I’d Like to Keep It On, Please: How to Safely Engage Sexually During the Pandemic

September is Sexual Health Awareness Month and September 4th is World Sexual Health Day. This year’s theme is ‘Sexual Pleasure in the Time of Covid-19’. Anal surgeon Dr. Evan Goldstein, founder of Bespoke Surgical and Future Method, is one of the nation’s leading sexual health and wellness experts.  While his practice focuses on the LGBTQ+ community, one of his goals is to educate all communities on safe and satisfying anal engagement.

NYC Health Department released a fairly progressive guide to having sex during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s long overdue, but better late than never, right? They acknowledge that sex is a normal part of life and that practicing risk mitigation tactics is key. This has been a key tenant of Bespoke Surgical since I founded it 10+ years ago. I was never an “abstinence-only” kind of doctor because people are going to do what they want to do, regardless of what I tell them. Instead, I spend my time discussing and evaluating my client’s sex lives in great detail and then providing them with as much information as I can to help reduce the amount of risk involved for all parties. When you are educated on how you engage, I believe you can make informed decisions that positively impact not only your own health, but also the health of those you engage with and the community at large.

There is no doubt that engaging in sexual activities during the pandemic comes with risk. Not only are you physically close with someone (or some group of people), touching skin-to-skin, but you’re also swapping bodily fluids. That said, there are strategies to reduce the risk of contracting or passing on Covid-19. Shall we dive in?

From what we know so far, the virus can spread through saliva, mucus, and breath, and, in some studies, has been found in both semen and feces (though its ability to be passed on to another person via these substances is still being investigated). Therefore, it is still unclear if oral sex, rimming, and anal and/or vaginal sex can transmit Covid-19, but everything else you’re doing at that time comes with a high risk.

So what happens if you’re horny AF and just want to get off?
  • First and foremost, we should continue to treat Covid-19 as we would any other STI. This means getting tested regularly and keeping in touch with your partner(s) if you start to experience symptoms, or, if you test positive for Covid-19 after recently engaging in sexual activity, notify your partner(s) right away that they should also get tested, and take all precautions to avoid spreading the virus to others. Also, it’s important to remember that a positive test result for Covid-19 antibodies does not necessarily mean that you cannot be reinfected or that you are immune from other coronavirus strains.
  • The safest way to keep sexually engaged is to play solo. We’ll touch more on this later.
  • The next safest way is with a partner you live with (however, it’s key to make sure you’re both staying safe outside your home — like wearing a mask in public, physically distancing from others, washing your hands, etc.)
  • If you have sex with someone outside your home, you should both know the risks and understand the virus — its symptoms, what’s considered “risky behavior”, and, if available, the latest date of testing for active Covid-19 (nasal swab) as well as the antibody test (blood draw). And like I spoke about previously — find a monogamous sex buddy you trust to help minimize your exposure risk (and theirs). If you are unsure of your partner’s risk of exposure, at the very least remove kissing from your list of activities and/or wear a mask.
  • Avoid group sex for now. Alternatively, you can create a “sex group”, similar to a sex buddy, in which you are all engaging only with each other (individually or any combination thereof) or, at the very least, keep it to a small group of trusted individuals and host the get together in a large, well ventilated space with plenty of hand sanitizer or soap and water on hand.

If you plan on meeting up, here are some tips to consider:

  • Rather than getting close, why not use toys together? Try vibrating toys, dildos and plugs, masturbators, or even double-ended toys for mutual pleasure (these are great since these are easy to play with while facing away from each other). Just be sure to keep your toys clean before and after each use.
  • Wear a face mask during sex. While the NYC Health guide suggests that this can make things “kinky”, we even suggest trying a full face covering for Covid-19 protection and sensory deprivation, which in turn will enhance your other senses. Of course, only if you’re both into that.
  • The NYC Health guide also suggests getting creative with barriers, like home-made “glory-holes”, which were obviously a thing even before the virus. Don’t forget — us gays invented them. You can use a sheet, blanket, wall partition — anything you can think of — to build a barrier between you and your partner that will help avoid cross contamination of fluids like saliva that can carry and transmit Covid-19.
  • Consider positions that, while maybe not as intimate, help increase the space between your faces and/or force you to breathe in opposite directions, like doggy style and reverse cowboy. You might even start experiencing more “pump and dump” situations since cuddling and sticking around can be risky.

If meeting up is still not on your radar, there are so many sexy and satisfying ways to get off with yourself (and with others from afar).

  • Sexting — The simplest and maybe sexiest option. Just be sure you both consent first.
  • Phone sex — How retro! Not only is this fun, but it challenges your imagination and provides great practice for dirty talk and getting out of your head. Using your words during sex can be weird and awkward, so give this a try and see if you can get more comfortable whispering your dirty thoughts to that special someone.
  • FaceTime / Zoom Sex — This is a great way to get off with someone else, if you are comfortable with being on camera. You can try different games, such as Sexy-I-Spy, Truth or Dare, or even a good old fashion game of “you show me yours, I show you mine”. Just make sure you trust the other person and you’re taking necessary privacy and security precautions.
  • When you’re playing by yourself, try switching things up. Maybe invest in a Fleshlight or some butt plugs/dildos/anal training kits. I think now is actually the best time to get to know your body — something most of us never do. Just be sure to keep your toys clean!

From social media to the news, we’ve all seen people who either never followed the rules or have recently stopped playing by them. Our community functions best when each of the parts works hard together, towards the same goal. Easier said than done, of course. Sexual expression is an integral part of our overall health and wellness and trying to navigate sex and intimacy right now may be challenging, but it’s not impossible. We at Bespoke Surgical totally get that. We are still trying to figure out what work, life, and sex will look like during a pandemic. But it all starts with educating the community, analyzing the risks, and working together to mitigate them as much as possible not only for you, but for anyone inside your ass (or you, theirs). 😉

If you’re in the NYC area, please reach out to make an appointment.

Don’t forget to stay in touch on Instagram: meBespoke Surgical, and Future Method.

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Dr. Evan Goldstein

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