The pandemic impacted the ways people do many things, especially if and how they have sex.
Medical Chief Dr. Kelly Farroll of Health Service at SIUE said she believes safety is the primary concern.
“I think that like any other time, I would always recommend safe sex and knowing your partner,” Farroll said. “In the time of COVID, the more you know about your partner, the more you know about the risk you’re taking.”
With safety in mind, Farroll said she recommends trying to avoid sex if possible.
“Avoiding sex is the best way to have no risk. It depends on what degree of risk you want to take. Wearing a mask and keeping distance as the CDC recommends is the best way to prevent spread [of COVID-19],” Farroll said.
Despite this, Farroll said she believes sex—and the risk—is a personal choice.
“I think it can be a situation where the risk is controlled, and there’s a risk that both partners are aware of. Just like in situations with other infections, if both partners are aware and there’s discussion, I think it can be safer than random sex with people,” Farroll said.
Farroll said she would not recommend for students to use dating apps or have sex with people they don’t know, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To be intimate, it’s ideal to know someone and to know their history and their contacts and be able to have more discussions,” Farroll said.
Sophomore business administration major Andrew Simmons of O’Fallon, Illinois, said his use of dating apps has been varied, but he tries to stay safe when he does use them.
“[I] try to verify and know who they are,” Simmons said. “People should state that they’re socially distant and that they’d rather video call than get together, or meet up if both parties feel like they’ll be okay.”
Simmons also said he likes to make sure that other parties are comfortable and stay safe when he does have any sexual interactions.
“I always have hand sanitizer in the car and I usually keep masks with me in case the other party wants one and I try to just talk to them a little bit,” Simmons said.
Simmons said he believes that mutual masturbation can be helpful for staying safe as well as try something new with your partner.
“It’s a good alternative to try and spice some things up,” Simmons said.
Although he has used them, Simmons said he still wouldn’t recommend students use dating apps and have sex with people they don’t know.
“I feel like during this time we just need to be aware of other people, especially if you haven’t met them before,” Simmons said. “Get to know them and dig deep into the other party’s personality instead of trying to have sex.”
Various alternatives to sex also exist and are especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nichole Coad, store manager of the adult store Sam and Delilah in Alton, Illinois, said masturbation is certainly an option for staying safe.
“During the pandemic I would say that right now [the usage of sex toys is] safer than meeting somebody new and possibly getting sick,” Coad said.
Coad also said she firmly believes in the importance of masturbation with or without sex toys for health.
“Sexual health is important. It’s right up there with your physical and mental wellbeing,” Coad said. “Now more than ever, to have the sexual release is just important, and to do so safely is even more important.”
With safety in mind, Coad also said companies like Sam and Delilah have increased their offering of remote options such as sex toys that can be controlled via Bluetooth.
“[Using remote sex toys is] about keeping that connection. That’s why all of this is so important,” Coad said. “Even though we’re stuck at home and might be quarantined, we still have a connection to somebody in the outside world in some way or another, whether we can be physical with them or not.”
Farroll said she recommends to always think before you take risks and talk to your sexual partner.
“I think it’s also important to remember whatever you talk about doesn’t only affect those two people. It’s not only about you. It’s about your mom or dad or whoever is at home, and whatever you take home might be really serious for people who you live with,” Farroll said.