Safer Sex 101

SHADE answers common questions about safer sex.

Is it safe to have sex during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This is a very personal question, and only you can determine your comfort with the potential risk. ‘Sex’ means different things to different people, and as always your personal values should guide your decision-making.

These links can help you understand COVID-19 as it relates to sexual activity NYC Department of Public Health’s ‘Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019’ document and the Harvard Health Blog article “Intimacy, sex, and COVID-19”, and will help you make the best choice for yourself.

If I’ve decided to have sex, how do I minimize risk to myself and my partner(s)?

Consensual sex with a partner or partners that live in the same household, so long as no one is showing COVID-19 symptoms, is safer than sex with non-household members. As always, using barrier methods (condoms, dental dams) during sex remains crucial for prevention of STIs, pregnancy, and now COVID-19. Because COVID-19 can be transmitted through contact with saliva and feces, using barrier methods (condoms, dental dams) during sex remains crucial for prevention of STIs, pregnancy (when sperm and egg may be present), and now COVID-19.

What are some safer ways to express my sexuality while social distancing?

We prefer the phrase ‘physical distancing while staying socially connected’. There is no need to emotionally isolate yourself from your people while you are physically isolating, and this includes your consenting-adult sexual partners.

These activities are safer ways to meet your sexual and romantic needs while practicing physical distancing, without coming into physical contact with another person. As always, consider your own values, and how any sexual behavior aligns or conflicts with those values.

  • Masturbation is at the top of the list of safer ways to meet your sexual needs, as there is no exposure to someone who might have COVID-19
  • Sexting or phone sex with a partner(s)—steps 1-10 in this article detail how to more safely engage in sexting
  • Video chat dates
  • Reading or writing erotica

Experiencing changes—increases or decreases—to your sex drive? That’s normal, too!

You've got questions, and we've got answers!

Below are some of the most common questions we hear from students and some SHADE-approved videos and websites that will help you enjoy healthy and safe sex.

Scroll down for answers to our most frequently asked questions.

Questions

How Do I Use a Condom Properly?

Planned Parenthood video: A step-by-step guide on the proper use of condoms, and additional written information on the site.

Sexplanations video: A casual explanation and demonstration by Dr. Lindsey Doe, a clinical sex edutainer. This video has information specific to people with intact (uncircumcised) penises.

What Are Dental Dams and How Do I Use Them?

Dental dams are a type of barrier method, like condoms. It is a thin, square sheet that is usually made of rubber. The dental dams are placed over the vulva or anus for oral-vaginal or oral-anal intercourse. SHADE offers latex dental dams that come in different flavors.

Brown University Health and Wellness video: A guide on the proper use of dental dams, and alternative options if dental dams are unavailable. 

What Do I Do with Lube?

My Secret Luxury video: An explanation of how to use lubricants to promote sexual health.

Why Are There Different Condom Sizes?

Just like clothes, condoms come in various sizes. In order to have safe and pleasurable sex, choosing the right size can make a difference in your sexual experience. SHADE recommends trying out different sizes and types of condoms to find your preference.

SHADE offers three different condom sizes:

  • SNUGGER FIT condoms have a smaller ring size for people who prefer a tighter sensation.
  • TROJAN condoms have a standard ring size that fits most.
  • MAGNUM condoms have the widest ring size. Using a condom that is too big can increase the risk of the condom slipping off during intercourse. 
     
When Should I Use Condoms?

You should use condoms for every type of sex, every time. Condoms will reduce the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Condoms will also reduce the risk of pregnancy during vaginal sex. Using lube with a condom for any type of sex will reduce the risk of sensitive tissue tearing or condom breakage.

For oral-vaginal and oral-anal sex, a dental dam should be used to reduce the risk of transmission of STIs.

Which Lubricant Should I Use?

There are many different types of lubricants available in the market, and choosing the right one for you can be confusing. The Our Bodies Ourselves website can help you understand which lubricants are the best for you based on your preferences. SHADE offers water-based lubricants, silicone-based lubricants, and flavored lubricants.

SHADE recommends using flavored lubricants for oral intercourse, but not for vaginal or anal intercourse. They may cause irritation to the sensitive tissue of vaginas and rectums.

What If I Am Allergic to Latex?

SHADE provides free Lifestyles Non-Latex condoms, too. You can make a non-latex dental dam out of a latex-free condom, learn how by watching this Brown University Health and Wellness video.

I Have More Questions. Who Can I Talk To?

If you’d like to talk to someone in person, please make an appointment. Or, if you have a question for a nurse, you can call the Boynton Health Nurse Line at 612-625-7900. This number is answered 24 hours a day.

Still have questions?