Feel like you can let go and take a breath yet? Like so many others, the ASHA team and I are working from home, ordering online, and trying to grasp all that’s happening due to coronavirus.
There are actually many types of coronaviruses and the novel (or “new”) coronavirus dominating our attention can cause illness of the lungs and airways that’s commonly referred to now as COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease, 2019). Symptoms might include cough, fever, and runny noses.
The reporting on COVID-19 is at the top of every news cycle, 24/7 coverage that keeps us riveted. I know many of you are anxious by the sudden upheaval in your daily routine. I also know many are fearful, and that’s understandable. The headlines can be unsettling for sure and our hearts go out to each and every person affected by this, along with their families. No way around it, this is a difficult time.
While we’re learning to weather this storm that came upon us with such speed (and we will), take some time to simply be gentle with yourself. We won’t be going to restaurants and concerts for a bit, maybe, but some simple things can boost your mood. Take a break from the news, read a book or stream a new movie or show. I’m currently watching Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. It’s spring so get out of the house, stroll around your neighborhood and spend time in the fresh air and sunshine. Make sure you get enough sleep, too. Get more ideas from this article on self-care during stressful times. Also arm yourself with the latest information and science-based insights to keep yourself and your family safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 page is an excellent resource.
A few of you have asked if COVID-19 might be sexually transmitted. There’s still much we don’t know about that, for example, one study from Japan found the virus in semen but it isn’t clear if that is a risk for transmission. We do know the virus is passed through close, direct contact that involves exposure to respiratory secretions (fluids or droplets from someone’s airways). That’s why the buzzword of the day is social distancing so, in addition to hand washing and sanitizing, public health advisors recommend we keep a few feet of separation to lessen the likelihood of being exposed. Well, you don’t need me to tell you that having sex with someone is pretty much the absolute opposite of that! The risk, then, is perhaps not so much from having sex as the fact you’re simply up close and oh so very personal while doing so. Again, our understanding of all this is evolving and a fuller discussion can be found here on ASHA’s Ask the Experts forum. I encourage you to give it a read if curious.
So what should you do? At the moment your safest sexual partners are yourself (we’ve done a whole social media campaign this spring on Keep Calm and Masturbate!) and someone you live with. I know it’s not realistic to expect everyone to do this so if you have a new hook-up at least check to make sure your partner is feeling well. Also don’t forget about safer sexand the importance of obtaining consent and respecting boundaries.
We’ll get through all this together. Our daily lives will be disrupted for a while but I’m doing my best to adopt the “less bark, more wag” approach and I hope you’ll join me.
I wish you health, healing, and comfort!
President and CEO
The American Sexual Health Association