In “Frank Answers Briefly About Male Body Issues,” I gave a brief answer to a question about having sex during COVID-19, following the recommendations of Mayo Clinic and the New York City Health Department. That brief answer is still there. But here I expand it, looking ahead to what our sexual expectations will be once the pandemic recedes into the past, which we hope will be soon since now immunization vaccines are available to everyone.
Warning: some sexually-explicit images are included
We’ve been practicing social mitigations during the novel coronavirus pandemic since February 2020. Only now in May 2021 is U.S. society slowly opening up and fully vaccinated people can take off their masks outdoors and indoors and return to some normal activities.
Masks and social distancing precluded many activities, including in-person church attendance, concerts, yoga classes in a studio, eating out in restaurants, participation in sports events. as well as going to school at all levels of education (pre-K through university). What will a return to these activities be like? Will there really be a “return to normal?” What is “normal” after this experience of 16 months of abnormal living of life?
Sex is an integral part of human life. The mitigations of the pandemic inhibited sexual activities for many. People report that touching another body and being touched by someone have been deprivations during the pandemic. Will the removal of these mitigations also result in returning to normal sex? What will “normal sex” be like after 16 months of abnormal sexual life for many people?
For those who have been together throughout the whole pandemic experience, particularly married couples, it is possible that their sexual relationship will continue as it has been. The generation and contemporary culture steeped in the hook-up culture of casual dating and casual sex has undoubtedly been most adversely impacted. But the hope and promise of an intimate relational connection between lover and beloved can be an erotic lure.
In this post instead of answering a question I will review what has been taking place and recommendations that have been made by health authorities during our social mitigations. But I offer a couple of questions that, I hope, readers will offer some frank (i.e. honest) answers to.
What did you do for sex during the pandemic?
What do you think sex will be like for you after the pandemic?
Consider what we’ve gone through that has put a damper on sex. The usual meetups were canceled. The bars, restaurants, theaters, fitness studios, and churches, where you might meet someone new or take your partner on a date, were closed. They are only now re-opening. The dating app Tinder even put out a precaution about dating and mating in the time of the new coronavirus. The message was clear: sex is risky.
The coronavirus is spread through air-bourn droplets (and fecal matter). You cannot get COVID-19 just by having sex. But you get it from breathing in or being in immediate contact with the virus. That’s why the standard recommended mitigations also applied to having sex.
Masks were required, so kissing was out. You had to stay six feet apart. It’s hard to have vaginal intercourse at that distance.
Even married couples could be at risk if one partner was infected or came into contact with someone who was.
So with all these restrictions, how did you have sex during COVID-19? Did you go ahead and have sex anyway? If partners lived together and weren’t doing a lot of things that brought them into direct contact with other people, there was little risk in maintaining usual sexual practices.
For other partners who didn’t live together, you could each get tested, quarantine for two weeks, and then get together for sex. Health departments recommended doggie style or other ways of not facing each other during intercourse, rather than the traditional missionary style.
Many couples, especially married couples, reported a low libido, which could be attributed to pandemic-related anxieties. Anxiety can put a damper on having sex. Psychotherapists have reported an increase in case loads during the pandemic. Reports of new births show a deficit from the last year (a growing trend exacerbated by the pandemic). If you don’t feel like having sex, you won’t produce babies. Will a new normal be that you got used to NOT having sex?
I received a question a year ago about experiencing a low libido during the pandemic that I answered in “Frank Answers Briefly About Male Body Issues.” I suggested in my answer that couples whose libidos are low should make an effort to maintain intimacy, for example, by giving each other a massage and doing more hugging than usual.
People reported missing human contact. Human connection includes touch—touching another and being touched. For at least some of the time during the pandemic massage studios were closed. Yet we all need touch, even if we have to touch ourselves. Did you practice self-massage?
Self-touch will probably lead to masturbation, especially for men, since we can’t keep our hands off our dicks.
Mayo Clinic and the New York City Health Department recommended masturbation and virtual sex as the best forms of safe sex. The New York City Health Department stated that “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.” Furthermore, it’s worth acknowledging that masturbation helps to reduce stress and tension, as well as improve sleep quality, and therefore might be a powerful coping tool in these nerve-racking times.
Did you try mutual masturbation with a partner while wearing masks and not facing each other? Mutual masturbation with physical distancing could also work if the couple is facing each other at about six feet distance from one face to the other. Long arms would help in any position for mutual masturbation. And wear face masks.
Did you “talk dirty” with some person on the phone? You can pay for phone sex. You can also have phone sex with an actual partner, perhaps a lover from whom you are separated. This is recommended by leading health authorities like Mayo Clinic and the New York City Health Department. It helps you to keep up your interest in each other during a time of absence. You know your partner and may know what buttons to push. Just get naked, call your partner and begin conversation by asking, “If we were together right now, what would you like to do?”
Mayo Clinic recommended virtual sex using social media platforms. (See Frank Answers About Sexting. In that article I describe what is legal and illegal in the U.S. and what social platform companies allow in terms of sending nude images.)
Did you do sexting? By the way, guys, sending dick pictures is not considered cool, according to women interviewed, especially if it’s a first contact.
Did you contact people on Snap-chat? Supposedly this is safer than other social platforms because the photos you send have a limited time span before being deleted. Obviously, having your nude self shared online is a personal risk.
Did you get nude on FaceTime with your girlfriend?
FaceTime is sharing just between the two of you, so it’s not as risky as sending photos.
Pushing the envelop in terms of your own bodily experiences and sensations can be a form of self-eroticism. Did you buy and use sex toys? Sales reportedly have been up. Mayo clinic advised cleaning sex toys after use.
Did you do something to make yourself feel more sexy, like offer a naked food or cooking class on Zoom? Some women did.
Did you find a way to assert your personal freedom while following the recommended mitigations, like working at home while naked?
Did you venture outside naked? A cool breeze on your naked body is quite sensual. With people staying in there would be fewer nosy neighbors.
If you live in a high rise, did you venture out on your balcony in your boxer briefs to greet the morning sun? It’s not illegal. Do you care what your neighbors might think?
Did you explore sleeping naked? It’s a healthy thing to do. Sleeping naked will keep your body cooler. A study conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that keeping yourself cool while you sleep speeds the body’s metabolism by producing brown fat that burns calories. You can actually lose a bit of weight by sleeping naked. It’s also very sensuous.
Men sleeping naked have discovered the sensual advantage of sensing their nocturnal erections when they arise. In fact, your genitals need airing out, especially if you wear tight briefs during the day. Men used to wear night shirts to sleep in, leaving their lower parts uncovered. Studies have found that sleeping naked can increase fertility and raise libido levels. In anticipation of when you may be skin-to-skin again, men, start sleeping naked.
Or, as the pandemic wore on, did you just lose interest in sex or being sexy? Whether with a partner or solo? Apparently, many did.
Whether married or single, it’s also possible during a time of crisis to simply withdraw into contemplation and not focus on not having sex. When the situation like living through the pandemic and its recurring surges summons anxiety, just practicing breathing and meditation. Make the pandemic a time for retreat and renewal. You could practice naked meditation. Even parents dealing with children and the anxieties of home schooling via Zoom could take a few minutes at the beginning or end of the day (whatever works best) for meditation. (See Frank Answers About Naked Meditation.)
The pandemic is not over, but with more people being vaccinated and mitigation recommendations/rules being lowered (like wearing masks and observing social distancing), society is opening up with more indoor and outdoor activities. How soon do you think you’ll get back to normal sex, whatever that means to you? Can we really just return to anything the way it was before the pandemic when the “all clear” is sounded, including sex?
For me as a married senior, who observed all the mitigations and pretty much stayed at home and taught classes, worshiped, and did yoga classes on Zoom, I’ve experienced little change during the pandemic. I’d say that intimacy actually increased in little touches like hugging and kissing my wife during the pandemic. I also think I became more anxious because of the seriousness of the pandemic for someone at my age, my need to learn how to use the new technology (I’ve always been nervous about using new technology), and, quite frankly, because of the tensions in American political situation since the 2020 election. I don’t do sexting, and my FaceTime has been with family whom we’ve not been able to visit. My guess is that for younger people, especially singles, the changes were greater and the expectations for sex post-pandemic will be higher.
So I ask: If you have engaged in some of the sexual or sensual practices I’ve mentioned in this article, has this resulted in giving you a deeper sense of the dimensions of sex, whether with a partner, solo, or virtual? Will practices you tried during the pandemic go away when the pandemic goes away? Or is it possible that you could end up seeking a bolder sexual life and deeper sexual relationships post-pandemic, and not just more of the same old sex you had before? Ultimately, the goal of sex is to experience a deep union with another. The recommendations of masturbation and virtual sex are place-settings for the main course.
Whether you are gay or straight, man or woman, coupled or single, young or old, I’d like to hear from you. Readers might also be interested in your experiences and expectation. It would help if you noted how you self-identify by age, sexual orientation, gender, and life situation.
The frank answers to these questions won’t be from me, but from comments which I invite you to make. How did you meet your sexual needs and desires during the pandemic? Or didn’t you. What are your expectations of your sexual life after the pandemic? Don’t be shy. We all have sexual needs and we’ve all been through this pandemic together.
If you want anonymity you can send a response as a “Question.” It will come to me as an email sent by WordPress. I won’t know who sent the “question,” but I will post it as a comment/response.
General comments on my questions are also welcome by using the “Comment” feature. But criticizing someone else’s sexual practice is not welcome. We will not be judgmental.
Let me hear from you. Share your experiences with others. Your frank answers begin here.
NOTE: August 1, 2021. The COVID-19 Delta Variant is surging among the unvaccinated and there have also been some breakthrough cases among the vaccinated. Delta spreads more easily and quickly, and the youth and young adults are among the cases testing positive. The hospitals are again filling up. If you’re not vaccinated, don’t have sex with someone else. Keep it to yourself.