Coronavirus: a sex therapist's guide to intimacy during the COVID-19 outbreak

Psychosexual therapist Sarah Berry explains how to handle intimacy in these unprecedented sexual times.

Is it OK to have sex during the time of COVID-19? We asked a sex therapist.
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Whether you are single and social distancing or in a relationship and self-isolating with your partner – it is a weird time, sexually.

Already people are predicting that millions of “coronials” will be born next year. History tells us this is usually what happens around nine months after people are forced to stay indoors, such as after a cold winter or a major event, such as the 1965 New York blackout.

So what are the risks and rules of intimacy during the time of coronavirus?

Is COVID-19 sexually transmissible?

So if you are cough-free, decked in condoms, masks, gloves and slathered in antibacterial fluid, is it safe to have sex?

While it is still unclear whether the virus can be spread through genital fluids, there is currently no evidence to suggest that this is the case.

However, we know that coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets primarily, as well as by touching contaminated surfaces. Given that kissing is often involved during sexual intercourse, it is important to note that the virus could be passed via saliva.

Is it OK to have sex with a new partner?

With Britain currently in lockdown and people being told to only interact for things that are essential, like shopping for groceries (and even then, to try and keep at least six feet from each another), it is going to make meeting and having sex with a new partner difficult. However, there is nothing to stop you from enjoying a little virtual foreplay.



Is it OK to have sex with your partner?

If you or your partner have or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, the advice is stay clear of each other as much as possible.

However, if neither of you are showing coronavirus symptoms and are self-isolating together, then by all means.

Is it OK to have sex in self-isolation?
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Sex in self-isolation

If you are living with your partner and have great communication around sex, that’s great. However, remember that with a massive change in routine and hours spent in each other’s company, you will be more likely to get on each other’s nerves. Plus, we all have differing libidos and differing levels of anxiety, so being able to talk identify and talk about what you are mad, sad, scared and glad about can help.

Another thing? Try scheduling times for intimacy that don’t necessarily rely on being wholly present and aroused:

  • Having an old school make out session – top half only
  • Lying naked, holding each and and letting your breathing sync
  • Having a bath or shower
  • Masturbating together or holding and kissing the other while they see to themselves
  • Enjoying cyber sex with each other (even if you’re quarantined together)


    Coronavirus and cyber sex

    Whether you’re sending texts or photos, having voice calls or using video, cyber sex with partners, near strangers or professionals, can be a powerful way to get off.

    Here are some tips for great cyber sex:

    • Make sure you’ve got a decent internet connection and won’t be interrupted.
    • Think about your background if you’re on video. Is it sexy? Is it revealing? Most people don’t want to masturbate to the image an upturned laundry basket.
      • While we are sexual beings, bonking doesn’t always go smoothly at the best of times and even exhibitionists can get stage fright. So if you’re nervous, remember that.
      • If you’re clear about what you want from a role play in terms of activity and dynamic, have a discussion about how you like it.
      • Be specific. Talk about body parts, sexual acts and sensations. Feel free to use moans, whispers, shout out orders.
      • Talk about what you’re doing – if you’re masturbating, then tell them how your hand feels or imagine your hand is your cohort’s mouth, hand or genitals. How does it feel?
      • You could start clothed or in whatever feels sexy, and reveal body parts as you go.
      • Try reading some passages of erotica.
      • If it’s someone you’ve had real life sex with, reminisce about any particularly good sessions or talk about sex you wish you could have.
      • If you feel uncomfortable, remember don’t feel you have to do things you don’t want to do. Even if it’s just online. Your pleasure and positive feelings are just as important as the person you are communicating with.
      • Make sure you don’t come on your keyboard!


        Coronavirus and online dating

        If you’re single, why not take your dating virtual with all this new-found spare time?

        You could do some activities at the same time over video, such as having a drink, dinner or watching the same movie at the same time. Remember your manners and mitigate your expectations of sauciness. If you want to be sexy, then ask if the other person is up for that?

        Take your dating virtual.
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        Self-isolating and using a vibrator

        If you’ve got no one to play with and are bored with your usual masturbatory routine, then there are a vast array of online tools to spice things up – and they’re not just for vulvas. Penis toys, such as Fleshlights and Tenga eggs can lead to what is known as “a posh wank”. Lubrication applied to any genital can make the experience more sensual. As can burning aromatic oils or candles, plus listening to music, whether hard rock or classical.



        Self-isolating and porn

        PornHub made lockdown headlines when it offered some countries free premium memberships but I would wager porn usage would increase regardless. Porn can be a wonderful thing in times of sexually frustrated loneliness. There is every kind of sex available online for your voyeuristic pleasure.

        The trouble with porn is that it can be addictive – especially for isolated computer users working from home: the internet offers an exciting sweet shop of possibilities. I recommend limiting your time online. Step away from phones and computers where possible and do something that stimulates, relaxes, energises or bonds you with others.

        Remember one day we will be free to meet (and bonk) with abandon (condoms and consent prevailing) and just think how much more exciting that will be.

        Sarah Berry is a psychosexual and relationship therapist.


        Last updated: 25-03-2020

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