Sex is all about intimacy, but a new study carried out by Harvard University on sexual health during the pandemic might just...change that. Because the researchers have recommended wearing a face mask while doing the deed and, erm... yeah.
Despite the fact that a large part of the whole getting jiggy thing is the kissing, experts advise partners who don't live together to protect themselves with the barrier of a face mask. The US-based study, which assessed the sexual health implications of the virus, placed different methods of sexual activity in order from safest to least-safe in terms of spreading the virus.
Unsurprisingly, up at the top was "abstinence", because you won't be catching anything if you're not going anywhere near another person. Next, with the second lowest risk for coronavirus, came masturbation. Then it was sex via digital platforms (which, while it may not be risky virus-wise, the experts acknowledged comes with its own risks in terms of privacy and sexual extortion), followed by sex with someone in the same household.
Then, at the bottom of the list and deemed the most risky, came sex with someone outside your own household—during which you're recommended to wear a face mask.
It's worth noting at this point, however, that it is currently illegal in England to have sex with anyone who does not live in the same house as you. There are similar bans across the rest of the UK. But in the US, where it's not completely forbidden to sleep with someone outside your own household (although it is banned in many states to socialize with anyone you don't live with), scientists are advising taking precautions like face masks to minimize risk of spread.
When it's eventually re-legalized to shag outside the bubble of your own household (that's people-wise, we're talking. It'll still be very much illegal to have sex in a public place when coronavirus has been and gone...) it may be that UK experts take a similar approach of advising face mask-wearing while having sex with someone new, in an attempt to prevent the spread. But we can cross that very awkward-sounding bridge if it comes to it.
The Harvard study goes on to recommend, on top of wearing a face mask during sex, that you should also "shower before and after sexual intercourse" and "clean up the physical space with soap or alcohol wipes". So, enjoy that lab experiment.
In all seriousness, it'll take a while before any of our old dating habits can safely return. And in the meantime, we'll all just have to get on board with taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.