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Understand the risks of sex and intimate contact in the time of COVID-19

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Sex and COVID-19
Images used in photo illustration by Shutterstock

With mandatory mask wearing and physical distancing of at least six feet becoming the norm around the nation, the question remains—is sex safe?

In short—it can be, but experts say any type of in-person sexual activity does carry some risk. But there are ways to have intimate contact and remain connected.

How is it transmitted?

Let’s start with what we know. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, so direct contact with saliva—through kissing, for example—can easily pass the virus. While COVID-19 has not yet been found in vaginal fluid, it has been found in feces of people who are infected. So this means that rimming (oral/anal contact) and anal sex may spread COVID-19 as well. Remember that condoms and dental dams reduce contact with saliva and feces during anal and oral sex or oral/anal contact.

recent study has also found the coronavirus in semen, both in men who had active infections and those who had recovered, but it isn’t clear at this point if it can be sexually transmitted through semen.

What’s the risk?

So where does that leave us? With different levels of risk. Given we currently know about COVID-19 and how it’s transmitted, the safest sexual activity is solo or remote. Solo sex (a.k.a. masturbation) can be both satisfying and safe—just remember to wash your hands! And technology makes different types of remote options, like video chats, sexting, available too.

The next safest option is sex with someone you already live with, provided that person is also taking steps to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19 (like social distancing, hand washing, wearing a mask in public spaces).

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has some excellent guidance on safer sex during these times, which you can read in full here. But here are a few basic tips from NYC Health on how to enjoy sex and to avoid spreading COVID-19:

  • You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.
  • The next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact—including sex—with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19. All partners should be consenting.
  • You should limit close contact—including sex—with anyone outside your household. If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible and pick partners you trust. Talk about COVID-19 risk like you would other safer sex topics (e.g. PrEP, condoms). So ask: do they have symptoms or have they had symptoms in the last 14 days? Have they been diagnosed with COVID-19? People are considered likely no longer infectious if at least 10 days have passed since the day their symptoms started and if they have not had fever for at least three days.
  • If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you.

For couples from whom pregnancy is a concern, don’t forget contraception as well. Once again, condoms (both internal and external) can fill that role, and telemedicine options are available as well, if you can’t venture out to a clinic or pharmacy.

Expert Answers to Common Questions

The National Coalition of STD Directors, in partnership with NASTAD have developed some excellent resources to answer questions about real-life situations many people are experiencing. Like, my partner has a high-contact job, where they cannot practice social distancing. Is it safe to have sex? These fact sheets, based on current evidence, help you understand the different levels of risk for spreading COVID-19 and safety measures you can take for lowering the potential risk of spreading or getting the virus.

Relationships Under Lockdown

Some of you may be thinking, “Sex?! Are you kidding? My partner is driving me crazy!” You’re not alone. Even couples with healthy, strong relationships may find themselves under strain during this time—struggling with being confined 24/7 under stay-at-home orders. Others may be pressed because of distance, forced to live apart due to health concerns or quarantine.

If you’re feeling the stress, there are resources to help. You can get tips on how to respect and help one another and disagree fairly. If you need more support, you can find a counselor who can offer phone or online support.

COVID-19 restrictions can be particularly dangerous for those in abusive relationships. The National Domestic Violence Hotline cites specific ways the pandemic can a survivor of intimate partner violence, from an abuser withholding necessary items or threatening to cancel health insurance, to the lack available shelters due to COVID-related closures.

The National Sexual Health Coalition suggests taking specific steps to stay safe in this situation, including making some space between you and you abuser by taking walks or a drive if possible and They also suggest making an a safety plan and having an emergency bag ready in case you need to leave your home quickly. Loveisrespect.org has an Interactive Guide to Safety Planning that can take you a series of steps and identify your safety options.

A Note of Caution for Parents

With schools cancelled across the country, many kids are spending more time online, possibly with less supervision than usual as parents are struggling to work remotely while caring for children. For this reason, law enforcement has warned that kids are particularly vulnerable to online predators at this time. Some reports suggest an increase in digital activity among sexual predators who target children.

So what can parents do? Talk to your kids about the risks and help them learn how to identify “red flag behavior” in people they may meet online, like asking for personal information or encouraging secrecy. Be an askable parent—willing to talk to your kids without judgement or shame.

The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children has an extensive list of resources for parents to help their kids stay safe online, including how to access privacy and security settings on a number of apps and online platforms as well as ways to block and report users.

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Hotel industry’s recovery to pre-Covid levels profits 3 yrs away: ICRA

“This will keep revenues moderated, resulting in operating losses and stretched debt metrics during FY2021 and FY2022.”

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Park Hotel Delhi

New Delhi, Oct 24 : The Indian hotel industry’s recovery to pre-Covid levels profits is at least three years away, ratings agency ICRA has said.

The ratings agency said that road ahead for the industry is rough as revenues and margins are expected to post record decline in FY21 with losses mounting over the next two years.

The hotel industry has witnessed one of the worst revenue declines, in Q1FY21, with revenues for the industry sample declining by 85 per cent.

“Given the high operating and financial leverage in the industry, the revenue decline led to huge operating and net losses in Q1 FY2021 despite the extensive cost-cutting measures adopted by most entities in the industry,” ICRA said in a statement.

“Despite sharp weakening in interest coverage, recourse to the RBI provided moratorium on debt servicing as part of its Covid relief package announced in March 2020 supported the industry.”

As per the statement, about 66 per cent of ICRA’s hospitality portfolio applied for moratorium under this scheme and several of these will apply for restructuring under the K.V. Kamath committee too.

“Although hotels have been gradually allowed to reopen, occupancies have remained subdued in H1FY2021,” the statement said.

“This will keep revenues moderated, resulting in operating losses and stretched debt metrics during FY2021 and FY2022.”

The industry has reported a 2.7 per cent de-growth in topline with flat operating margins at 22 per cent in FY2020.

“With an 85 per cent YoY decline witnessed in revenues in Q1 FY2021 and subdued occupancies witnessed in Q2 FY2021 as well, industry wide revenues are expected to witness sharp de-growth of 60-65 per cent for FY2021,” ICRA said.

“Despite several measures taken by the companies to variabilise the fixed costs, the industry is likely to report massive operating and net losses in FY2021.”

–IANS

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31% adolescents battled extreme anxiety in past few months due to COVID-19, says survey

About 31% surveyed adolescents battled extreme anxiety in the past few months worrying about the impact of coronavirus pandemic on their family’s financial status, according to a survey

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work-load office tension stress

About 31 percent surveyed adolescents battled extreme anxiety in the past few months worrying about the impact of coronavirus pandemic on their family’s financial status, according to a survey of over 7,300 adolescents from four states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Odisha.

The survey on ‘What do the Adolescents have to say? COVID-19 and its Impact’ by NGO Centre for Catalysing Change was conducted in two rounds in the months of April, July and August.

Out of the 7,324 adolescents surveyed, 31 percent admitted to battling extreme anxiety worrying about the pandemic’s impact on their family’s financial status.

The survey also found that adolescent girls faced significant gender discrimination in these months due to the pandemic.

“Only 12 percent of surveyed adolescent girls had access to their own mobile phones to be able to attend online classes, while 35 percent boys had access to their own mobile phones,” the survey found.

“Further, 51 percent of the adolescent girls surveyed lacked access to essential textbooks in comparison to boys, highlighting how the pandemic had jeopardized girls’ access to education,” it said.

About 39 percent of the girls were found to be contributing to housework as opposed to the number of boys at 35 percent, it said.

Under the survey, the adolescent girls also stated how their mobility has been curbed, with only 39 percent girls saying they were allowed to go out alone in comparison to 62 percent boys of the same age who were allowed to go out alone.

“At the same time, only 36 percent adolescents knew the correct helpline numbers, while awareness about the use of the helplines was even lower. Only 18 percent was aware that the helplines could be used in reporting domestic violence and only 22-23 percent knew that it could be used in reporting child labour and child trafficking cases,” it added.

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Sahir Ludhianvi death anniversary: Top Bollywood songs penned by the legendary poet

On Sahir Ludhianvi’s death anniversary, here’s looking at top Bollywood songs written by the legendary poet!

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Sahir Ludhianvi

Born in Ludhiana, Punjab, in 1921, Sahir began writing since childhood. Born as Abdul Hayee, he found the word ‘Sahir’ while reading Iqbal’s poetry and decided to use it as his pen name.

Sahir’s poetry was remarkably concerned with socio-economic and political problems of the country. He often voiced problems of the downtrodden with his words.

Sahir’s debut as film lyricist was with Azadi Ki Rah Par and Baazi. In recognition of his contributions, he was honoured with Padma Bhushan. Sahir died in Mumbai on October 25, 1980.

On Sahir Ludhianvi’s death anniversary, here’s looking at top Bollywood songs written by the legendary poet.

Dekha hai zindagi ko kuch itna kareeb se

Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shayar hu

Kabhi Kabhi Mere DIl Mein

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