Is It Safe To Start A New Sexual Relationship Amid A Pandemic?

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It may seem as though time has been dragging, but in the scheme of things, there are still a lot of questions surrounding coronavirus and the extent of this infectious disease. It's safe to say among the many things affected by this pandemic are one's personal relationships: Both the stress it can put upon existing ones as well as the limitations it puts on forming new ones. And when it comes to intimacy, that can further complicate things. In terms of sex during coronavirus, there may still be a lot to learn, but there are a few things medical professionals suggest for anyone who's wondering if, when, and how they should be physically intimate with a partner.

If you've been isolating with your partner, your sexual relationship should be able to be maintained given you're both following all the proper precautions, such as limiting your other social interactions, wearing masks, washing hands, staying on top of any potential symptoms, getting tested, etc. According to the University of Maryland Medical System website, "sexual partners who live together and who both have been following all recommended ways to avoid the coronavirus, there is lower risk of transmitting coronavirus through sexual activity."

But what about those in a new relationship? Or those hoping to starting one? As if navigating the dating world during this time wasn't tough enough in itself, an even bigger wrench gets thrown in when you decide to take a new relationship to the next level, physically speaking. "Since this is a new age and young people are increasingly isolated and limited to social media and potentially awkward new interactions, it is definitely a time to be cautious," explains Dr. Bita Nasseri, M.D., a Beverly Hills-based physician.

Even casual relationships require a certain level of trust, and that's especially important when there's a pandemic to consider, so communication with a new partner (or someone you don't live with) is key if you're planning to get intimate. And according to Nasseri, that conversation should include a discussion about getting tested. "If possible, plan [...] testing for COVID prior to substantial intimate contact," she says. "As always, better to have an honest discussion about other STDs as well while on the topic of COVID-19."

But even with an open dialogue about lifestyle habits, whether they've been following proper protocol, and updates on their general health, if you're unsure or nervous, it might still be in your best interest to hold off — for now. And as Nasseri explains, that has a lot to do with the fact that coronavirus' symptoms might not show up right away. "Since some COVID-positive persons are asymptomatic, it definitely increases the risk of exposure during the pandemic," she says. "Especially during this surge, the recent rise in younger folks definitely increases the risk of exposure."

So let's say you don't wait to wait: There are a few options. "It’s not clear how infectious COVID-19 is in body fluids, however the heavy breathing, cough, and oral secretions definitely generate a substantial risk of transmission in close quarters," says Nasseri. So as unsexy as limiting your foreplay may sound, that could be something to consider. And of course there's always solo sex with the safest partner around — yourself.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.

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