On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. As they did, they encouraged people to wash their hands, restrict their time in public, and avoid large gatherings.
With many colleges and universities moving to online instruction for the rest of the semester, businesses deciding how to facilitate telecommuting for non-essential personnel, and communities rescheduling civic events, it’s clear that a lot of folks will be spending more time alone. In anticipation of being at home more (voluntarily or not), a lot of people have started stocking up on things like rice, beans, soap, toilet paper, and other necessities of modern society.
While this is all very good planning, I know folks are also thinking about sex. I get it! It’s spring and people get extra randy when those new shoots start pushing up through the soil. And yes, this whole coronavirus thing is probably going to get in the way of your hook-up schedule or long-distance-relationship travel plans. Even cohabitating couples may be sitting out the no-pants dance in an effort to stay out of harm’s way.
The thing is—you can still have sex! You just may need to have it by yourself. I know that in our culture we tend to treat masturbation as a second or even third cousin to “real sex.” But it’s not. Solo sex can be incredibly sexy and mind-blowingly satisfying. Not only is masturbation good, it’s good for you. Studies have shown that masturbation increases your immune response, which in turn can protect you from all sorts of viral and bacterial illnesses.
For the next few weeks, we’ve got the chance to figure out just how much fun we can have all on our own. This is a rare opportunity in our current day and age. So many times I talk to people who feel guilty about spending time or energy flicking the bean or polishing the bannister. They have a deep seated belief that long masturbatory sessions are a waste of time. But without much else to do, you have the chance to really get to know yourself. You can dive deep and find out what you like and don’t like. Try new things all by yourself, and come out the other side of this with a whole lot of knowledge to share with a partner.
And it’s not like you don’t have options for entertainment. There’s porn on the internet these days. Oh, what a time to be alive! While there are obviously lots of ways to watch online porn for free, I always advocate checking out the paid sites, too. For the cost of a couple of lattes or a trip to the movies, you can have a month of really good pornography and know that folks you stroke to are getting paid. Check out Abby Winters, Pink Label, or Lust Cinema for films representing a wide variety of interests, orientations, genders, and aesthetics.
“But I like human connection,” you say. Hey, me too! This period of semi-seclusion will give us the chance to learn new ways to be sexually and sensually connected. How’s your sexting game? You’ve got 14 or more days to really refine those skills. How about phone sex? Yeah, it seems corny to some folks, but for others it can be a great way to stay intimate even from a distance. If you’ve got a willing partner, why not work on those communication skills? Then when you’re reunited, you’ll have all gotten used to talking openly about what you like and what you don’t. I do recommend looking for an encrypted text and call app like Signal or Viber so your private conversations stay private.
If you’re going be using sex toys, remember to clean them between uses. For non-porous materials like silicone, glass, or stainless steel, soap and hot water will be sufficient. For other materials (or if you’re not sure), using a toy cleaner will be helpful. Just make sure to rinse the toys after cleaning to keep your bits safe.
Oh, and this goes for everyone. Don’t forget to wash your hands. It’s the single most important thing we can do to prevent the spread of this and other viruses.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll get back to you with an answer.