With COVID19 quickly creating a slowed down society where many folks are practicing social isolation in order to slow the spead, no one seems to be talking about the impact on our sex lives. Many of us are sex workers, kinky, polyamorous, swingers, or otherwise engaged in very active sex lives ~.o so we reached out to Albe McClintock, a LPN, for answers.
The long and short of it is, that while Coronavirus’s are not transmitted via sexual fluids, they are transmitted via saliva, which makes them particularly challenging to prevent with safe(r) sex protocols. Coronaviruses are considered to be highly contagious, able to spread easily via saliva droplets when we sneeze, cough or engage in a highly arousing session of tonsil hockey.
What we learned was that we need to buckle down for what might be a long haul of social isolation, abstinence or only isolated together partner sex, and online community
We also learned that:
- This virus spreads easily and quickly. Without social isolation we will quickly see the hospitals overwhelmed and having to choose who will receive care and who will not (see Italy news for context).
- The virus spreads through mucus and saliva entering our mouths, noses and/or eyes.
- Because this is a new strain, we do not know very much, yet. A lot of what we ”know” is based on what we have learned from other coronaviruses.
- The virus is best disinfected with hot water and soap and scrubbing, then using a disinfectant. Sanitizer is a BACK UP and nowhere near as effective.
- The virus can live on non-porous hard surfaces for up to 3 days. This means tables, faucets, door knobs, dungeon furniture, sex furnitire, desks, phones, etc. THREE DAYS. The only way to be sure that the virus has been neutralized on a hard surface is to SCRUB with hot water and soap, dry, then disinfect. Without the soap and water the fatty cell of the virus is not likely to be breached by lysol or other household ”disinfectants”.
- The virus can live on porous surfaces, such as skin and clothes for 24 hours
- The virus can live in the air for three hours.
- That the risk during sex is from the sharing of mucus and saliva. Condoms, gloves and dental dams will not help.
- That rinsing your mouth with salt water WILL NOT HELP.
- That we could be looking at 6 months or more of this. Of social isolation, job shutdowns etc… but the alternative is a much higher death rate and infection rate. MUCH HIGHER.
- That one infected person has an infection radius of 2.5 compared to the flu which has a radius of 1. This means each infected person can more than double the amount of infected people.
- That you can be infected with ZERO symptoms, or mild symptoms and not even realize it.
We talked about the sanitation procedures used by spaces like ours, or by adult clubs (some at least), and THESE PROCEDURES ARE NOT ENOUGH. That because of the close contact between guests at spaces like ours, we cannot responsibly operate without risking many people.
HARM REDUCTION TIPS
As we do realize that many folks will not be able to (for so many reasons) adhere to social isolation, we asked the lovely LPN what measures a person can take to reduce risks. I want to be clear that at this time it is NOT ADVISABLE to engage in sexual contact with anyone other than the people you are socially isolating with, regardless of what measures you are taking. Albe suggested using the same screening processes used by many other spaces, such as medical clinics.
- If someone has been out of country in the last couple of months they are HIGH RISK
- If someone has been around someone who was out of country in the last couple of months they are HIGH RISK
- If someone has a fever or cough they are HIGH RISK
- If someone has been around someone with a fever or cough they are HIGH RISK.
We talked, somewhat jokingly, about doggy style being the best position in these tying times, but it was certainly agreed that missionary sex is out. Any position that puts you sharing breath is out. Kissing is out. Biting is out. Showering after is recommended, but it is not a serious safety mitigation measure if you are sharing that close of a space with a person.
And definitely continue to use condoms, as the COVID19 risk has not eliminated the dramatically high amounts of syphilis and gonorrhea circulating in Alberta.
Be safe, and keep an eye on the calendars; we are adding online socials, events, workshops and more to try and support the community we love so deeply. If you need help, please reach out!
Angel Sumka (she/they),
Certified Sexual Health Educator and Certified Sex Coach