How to maintain a safe and healthy sex life during a pandemicA healthy sex drive ensures mental and physical wellbeing—but in the midst of a pandemic, there are measures you need to adopt to keep your libido going while keeping the virus at bay.
Loss of jobs, a looming global economic crisis, and the anguish of not being able to freely move around like before, things have never been more uncertain. And at such times of anxiety, where a majority of people are focused on finding ways to sustain and survive the pandemic, sex is the last thing on people's minds. Even for those who are sexually active, there's constant tension and fear of contracting the coronavirus, and all these factors can have an impact on their libido, says Dr Subodh Pokharel, senior consultant sexologist at Manakamana Arogya Kendra.
But sex is beyond just gratifying physical pleasure. Many researchers have proven that sexual activity has both physical and mental benefits. “Sex is not only a pleasure-driven activity. But it can help people to have a healthy life as it helps to optimise their physical, mental, and spiritual health by improving it,” says Pokharel.
Likewise, during sexual activities, happy hormones like endorphins and oxytocin are released, which can help relax the mind and ease tension, says Pokharel.
However, as the pandemic is far from over, meeting with new people for casual sex, having multiple sex partners, or even traveling long distances to have sex is not the safest thing to do. While it hasn't been proven that sex can be an agent of transmission, sexual activities involve intimacy, which means the chances of getting infected if the other partner has coronavirus or has come in contact with the virus are high.
But this doesn’t mean that people should restrain themselves from having sex. Sex is significant in balancing the physical and mental health of people, and maintaining a healthy sexual life is necessary, say sexologists. Here are a few tips which you can adopt in your lifestyle to maintain a safe as well as healthy sex life during the pandemic.
Let your imagination flow
Right now masturbation is the safest way of deriving sexual pleasure. As the sexual activity may not necessarily involve another party (unless it’s mutual masturbation), this is a safe and viable option to maintain a healthy sex life amid the coronavirus—especially for those who are not living with their sexual partners, says Pokharel.
But masturbation is often treated as a taboo, and its shaming and stigmatisation is not new. However, the process of deriving self-pleasure has lots of benefits (for instance, it is an excellent de-stressor) and it is a perfectly normal sexual activity to indulge in. Not only does it help you gratify and stimulate sexual pleasure, it also is a great way of knowing about one’s body, which helps in boosting people’s confidence as well as enhancing their self-image.
However, Pokharel recommends people to be cautious of overdoing it, because if it becomes part of daily routine then it can take the shape of addiction as well. “A controlled form of self-pleasure is advisable for a healthy life,” he says.
Spice your life with the help of sex toys
If you always wanted to use sex toys but couldn’t buy them because the judgemental onlookers parked outside sex toys shops prevented you from stepping into the shops, then this is your chance. Many of these shops are closed physically but they are providing online delivery services, which means yo can splurge on some sex toys and spice up your sex life.
From vibrators to anal beads, from dildos to traps, according to Yubraj Neupane, owner of Nepal Condom House, the country’s first adult toy store, sex toys are a great, safe alternative. “People have to limit their meetings with other people,” says Neupane, “so, sex toys can be the best medium for people which can help them to maintain a safe sex life, fulling their physical needs without meeting many people.”
While it's a given that single people will be more interested in using sex toys, according to Neupane, who’s also a certified sex counsellor, even couples can benefit from the sex toys. “Those couples who are having problems in their sex lives can use sex toys as well. It can help to fill the void and help them to gain more pleasure,” he says.
However, Neupane strictly recommends people to clean their toys after using it and suggests them to not share or use the toys of others.
Make use of the internet
Just because your partner is far away from you physically doesn’t mean that you can’t sexually pleasure each other. Sometimes words can be louder than action, especially in the world of sexting. Be creative and imaginative: from chats and messages to video chats and virtual sex, the internet is a great medium of employing sexually stimulating techniques, says Pokharel.
“If done in a controlled way, virtual mediums can be a fulfilling medium to gratify sexual needs without the physical involvement of other sexual partners,” says Pokharel.
Likewise, the consensual sharing of intimate pictures can be a great way of maintaining sexual and intimate closeness with people, even if they are physically far away. Research also shows that those people who are likely to share an intimate picture with people they are comfortable with are likely to be happier and have a healthy sexual life than those who don’t. But while sharing intimate pictures respecting each other’s privacy and consent is a must.
For singletons, dating apps like Tinder, Grinder, and Bumble can be a great medium to talk with their fellow peers and have consensual sexting with them.
No random hookups or multiple partners for now
Although dating apps are a great way to talk to new people—even for casual sexting—but now is not the time to meet up with strangers. “Because of the situation, for now, it is safer to not indulge in sexual activities beyond regular sex partners,” says Neupane. He also stresses that becoming more conscious about one’s sexual choices and limiting partners is the best way of controlling the spread of the virus as well as fulfill one’s desire and sexual need at the same time.
“It’s also important to be aware of the behaviours of one’s regular sexual partner, since if they will be infected, the chances of also getting infected by the virus increases,” he adds.
Regularly meditate and exercise
What do mediation and exercise have to do with sex you might ask. While people may not easily comprehend the link between the two, according to Pokharel, regular meditation and exercises helps balance the sexual life of people. “As human sexuality is intertwined with the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of a person, it becomes important to have a balance of these aspects—and mediation and exercise can help with that,” he says.
According to him, if people regularly meditate and exercise, they can gain mental peace and clarity which can improve their sexual lives as well. “Mediation and exercise can ease out tension among people. It can also make them optimistic which can have a direct impact on their sexuality as it can help them maintain an equilibrium, leading to a healthy sexual life,” he says.