This article was scientifically fact-checked by Human Sexuality expert Dr. Laurie Mintz.
An increasing number of countries worldwide are under various states of lockdown and quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus, including all of the European Union and significant parts of the United States. But being in a state of lockdown is no reason to freak out – remember all those times you wished you had some time for yourself or you and your partner? Now that you have it, you should find some pleasant, creative and useful way to fill it and, of course, if you are quarantined with a partner, put sex* with that person on top of that list. So here are some useful tips that might help you on that path.
1. Schedule your time for sex (and everything else)
It is normal to feel stressed-out in this abnormal situation in which the spread of an invisible virus sets the rhythm of our lives, but it is extremely important to manage stress. The World Health Organisation published some good advice on stress management, and one of them is to limit exposure to news, especially the kind you find upsetting. One way to do that is to create a daily routine, including deciding when to read or watch the news… and, yes, when to have sex.
Treating sex as if it were something to check off your to-do list might seem a bit awkward but it is a good way to remind yourself that you need comfort of a human touch and physical pleasure. Also, sex therapists have long recommended scheduled sex for those with low sex drive, knowing that you don’t need to be horny to have sex but instead that having sex can get you horny. Also, planning daily routines is useful in times of uncertainty as it can offer some reassuring order in the otherwise chaotic situation.
2. Arrange a special place for lovemaking
Having a special spatial arrangement for sex is always a good way to help set the mood for you and your partner. It does not necessarily mean that you need to dedicate an actual room in your house or an apartment to play the old-school role of a boudoir.
There are various ways to transform the place from mundane to sexy. These include special lighting, candles (including scented ones), essential oils or incense. A simple act of putting a comfy mat on the floor and lighting a candle can turn the living room floor into a rather special place. Finally, filling a bathtub for relaxing, warm, wet and sexy times with your partner is the perfect way to properly unwind.
3. Dedicate yourself completely
Whenever you have sex, do it like you really mean it. In this strange time, there is some level of half-assedness or at least mental multitasking in everything we do, with some anxious thoughts usually remaining as the background process. The suppressive connection between sex and stress works in both directions; either you will reduce the feeling of stress with sex, or stress will impede on your abillity to commit to lovemaking.
The secret is in complete immersion of the senses. For a moment, let go of any specific intention, even the intention to reach orgasm, and let the sensation take over the steering wheel; the sensation of your lover’s body; the warmth, smell of the skin and breath, touch of the lips, joyful feeling of friction between the genitals… Try going with the flow without thinking where it may take you. And, when your mind invariably wanders, notice it without judging it and return to your immersion in your senses.
4. Make it tender and cuddle a lot
Not that there’s anything wrong with rough or kinky, but hard, scary times can increase your desire for reassuring, friendly and loving touch. Even though some level of selfishness is always present in sexuality at both the biological and social level, this is not the time for self-centeredness but for sharing, and that includes sex as well as everything else. In this strange reality we can at the same time be bored by the isolation and freaked out by the pace at which the world we know is impacted by the turmoil. It is only normal to crave warmth of each other’s physical presence. Let’s try to drop all the faking and taking from others and make the game about exchange – of energy, of pleasure and, above all, love. And, remember, cuddling (and sex) release feel-good chemicals that make us feel not only less stressed out, but more loving.
5. Stay safe
Be responsible by all means and make sure not to spread the virus even if you do not belong to the vulnerable group. As far as we know today, this novel coronavirus is extremely infectious and, while the science isn’t conclusive about whether it is transmitted sexually, it is delusional to think it’s possible to have a sexual encounter with another person without spreading the disease if either of you is infected (regardless of safe sex practices).
At the moment, the best we can do is to comply with social distancing rules and abstain from meeting new partners.
It is also quite important to have open communication with your present partner about each other’s health status and possible exposure.
Finally, all of us should keep in mind not to engage in any behavior (including sex) that might lead to injuries or infections requiring medical intervention, because medical services are overstretched or in some places downright unavailable.
Now, more than ever, we need to keep calm and safe, even if it means turning our sex lives vanilla for the moment.
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*In this article, for ease of reader understanding, we are using the words sex and intercourse as synonymous, as is done in popular culture in general. Similarly, we use the word “foreplay” the way it is used in popular culture (i.e., the sexual acts such as oral sex that come before intercourse). However, as aptly pointed out by our sex expert Laurie Mintz, we would also like to acknowledge that such language exalts men’s most reliable rout to orgasm and linguistically erases women’s most reliable route to orgasm—clitoral stimulation, either alone or coupled with penetration. Indeed, only between 4% and 18% of women reliably orgasm from penetration alone. We look forward to the day when such language is not commonly used in culture.
Facts checked by:
Dr. Laurie Mintz
Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Florida, teaching Human Sexuality to hundreds of students a year. She has published over 50 research articles and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Mintz also has maintained a private practice for over 30 years, working with individuals and couples on general and sexual issues. She is also an author and speaker, spreading scientifically-accurate, sex-positive information to enhance sexual pleasure.