Over the weekend, the New York City Health Department released its official guide for safer sex practices during the coronavirus pandemic. “All New Yorkers should stay home and minimize contact with others to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” began the memo, before sparing no detail in outlining the various ways in which COVID-19 could potentially be spread through sex, as well as emphasizing the best forms of protection. While some of its more explicit advice became Twitter fodder, many praised the PSA for being informative and all-encompassing.
“They’re acknowledging sex workers, oral sex, anal sex, pornography, masturbation, and sex toys, which are things that we don’t typically see addressed in government-issued communications, but these are not typical times,” explains Polly Rodriguez, co-founder and CEO of sexual wellness company Unbound. “It’s great to see a guide communicating the honest realities and implications of human behavior when it comes to sex during social distancing and self-quarantine.”
One of the biggest messages that emerged? You are your safest sex partner. “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,” it reads. Furthermore, it’s worth acknowledging that masturbation has been found to help reduce stress and tension, as well as improve sleep quality, and therefore might be a powerful coping tool in these nerve-racking times.
“We’re all going a bit stir crazy at home, and masturbation can be a great escape mentally and physically,” says Rodriguez. “Orgasms are a powerful release—and to see New York encouraging this form of pleasure is wonderful.” Better yet for anyone in self-isolation, the golden age of sex toys that serve all bodies is, at long last, here—and safely getting in touch with your body will always be a powerful form of self-care.