Get Tested! – How to Have (Corona) Safe Sex in Freshers’ Week

In the first instalment of her column, Lilith von Fuchs details all the ways we can have safe sex in Freshers’ Week, and emphasises the importance of testing

Lilith von Fuchs

"Conversations about getting tested are important, and precede all of my encounters"PIXABAY

“Wait, when were you tested?” “Well, I haven’t been - but my dad’s had an antibody test at work…” Conversations about getting tested are important and precede all of my encounters. However, I’ve never previously had one where someone’s dad was involved. In this instance, though, we weren’t talking about the spread of STIs, but the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which Jebediah (not his real name, although I sort of wish it was) reckoned he’d already had. 

It didn’t end up going anywhere, but I know conversations like it are being had all over the place; friends have shared similar experiences of sleeping with people they hoped had already had it, or making sure to steer clear of mouth-to-mouth contact in all but the most emergent situations (resuscitation seems pretty justified, for example).

My efforts aside, it’s worth remembering that a second wave appears to be on the horizon, and it’s also recently been shown that you can be reinfected with the virus, thus my method of attempting to conduct a summer fling is most distinctly not recommended.

So, what can you do?

Get tested!

" The Terrence Higgins Trust points out that as people have been having less sex and fewer partners over lockdown"instagram/thtorguk

In BOTH senses. The Terrence Higgins Trust points out that as people have been having less sex and fewer partners over lockdown, now is a great time to get checked for STIs. Most clinics are closed, but you can still order self-testing kits through iCash Cambridgeshire, with results in less than a week.

In the Covid-19 sense, there’s a scheme for asymptomatic testing for everyone in college accommodation that will be provided weekly, so make sure you participate in that just in case you’re a secret ‘super-spreader’. If you have symptomatic Covid, you may not be feeling up to a shag, but just in case it needs saying: completely avoid sex if you feel the slightest bit unwell, and if you’ve got any flu-y symptoms, get a coronavirus test. The best method might be to set yourself up with a regular sexual partner also in college accommodation, so you’re both being regularly checked for the virus.

Have a session with yourself.

"Hopefully, lockdown’s really taught you a lot about your own sexual pleasure, so use this opportunity to keep exploring that!"instagram/ukgovofficial

You most definitely cannot get sick from having sex with your favourite, most faithful partner: yourself. This is government-recommended advice! Invest in some good-quality lube (not off Amazon, please, have some self-respect), maybe some mood lighting, a big box of tissues, and whatever gets you off the best - whether it’s a romantic novel or the early speeches of Obama - and spend some time on yourself. Hopefully, lockdown’s really taught you a lot about your own sexual pleasure, so use this opportunity to keep exploring that! The safest sex is no sex, as they say, and it applies to coronavirus as much as it does to accidental pregnancy.

Alternatively, you CAN engage in mutual masturbation with a partner while maintaining social distance! Nothing like sitting 2 metres away from someone and working out whether or not you should make eye contact while you both touch your own genitals to really get you off… But anything’s worth trying at least once.

Use protection.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Bryan Fuller’s excellent but short-lived comedy, Pushing Daisies, in which a young and very eyebrowed Lee Pace plays a pie-maker with an unexpected sideline in homicide detection: he has this little thing where if he touches dead people, they come back to life and they let him know who was responsible, then he touches them again and they go back to being dead. BIG spoiler, but he touches his childhood sweetheart, who happened to have been murdered and then can’t bear to send her back to being dead, so they end up in a relationship where they can’t touch at all.

And… that’s the situation here. If I remember correctly, they built a contraption out of rubber gloves so that they could hold hands, and some sort of soft plastic screen to kiss through? But at one point they definitely just used clingfilm, so if you’re really desperate for a smooch, maybe this is the way to go about it.

If, unlike Lee Pace, you’ve not got clingfilm to hand… I mean, dental dams are multifunctional, so I suppose you could kiss someone through a dental dam if you’re really worried about saliva, but keep an eye out for nasal mucus (the sexiest sentence I’ve written yet).

Top tip, if you don’t have any dental dams (thanks, CUSU…but more on that another time!) just cut up a condom with a clean pair of scissors and then you’ve got a nice square of latex you can use. I can’t seem to find any evidence that there’s mouth-to-genital transmission of Covid, but just because the news is currently full of one big bad bug doesn’t mean all the others have gone into retirement. Imagine getting positive results for corona AND chlamydia! Viral fragments have also been found in semen and faeces, so make sure to keep breaking out the condoms and dental dams just in case.

“Oh, and, wash your hands with soap and water, rather than using hand sanitiser”

Alternatively, if you fancy a one night fling with no intimacy but lots of orgasms, your best bet is to steer clear of kissing, use face-masks and latex gloves, and avoid positions where you’re face-to-face. It’ll definitely be awkward and dystopian, but maybe if you find someone with a medical fetish it’ll be kind of fun? Oh, and, wash your hands with soap and water, rather than using hand sanitiser. 70% alcohol lube is never a good thing.

The boy next door…

If you’re lucky enough to be living with someone you’re in a relationship with, you’re golden – have as much sex as you’d like! But if that’s not the case, I would say this is the year that you can ignore the unspoken rule that says you shouldn’t sleep with people on your staircase, and instead make it a rule that where possible, you SHOULD.

You’re already in the same household, so you’re not required to distance from one another; it’s a very easy walk of shame, and you can even sleep in your own bed if you want to. Tensions will probably go off the charts when you end up isolating together for two weeks, so why not take advantage of it? If you’re sick of masturbating, BBC News actually recommends that, at University, the next best person to have sex with after yourself is someone in your household, so it’s all perfectly above-board.

And finally, try not to put anyone else at risk.

Being sensible and responsible and so on and so forth, really the best thing for lowering the risk of infection is to avoid having any sex at all. You can invest in a nice sex toy or two, put on your favourite ~self-love~ playlist and watch the things you actually want to watch, and the clean-up is so much easier! But I agree that intimacy’s often lacking, and especially if you’ve got a regular friends with benefits situation, it’s hard to keep a 2m distance, wanking sadly from opposite sides of the room at one another – and sometimes you really do just want a cuddle.

“At the end of the day, you have to consider the people in your household”

At the end of the day, you have to consider the people in your household: if you live with someone vulnerable, someone with health anxiety who’s really terrified of getting sick, or someone who’d really suffer from being locked inside for two weeks, wantonly venturing out to hook up with god knows who in god knows where, which would ordinarily be the preferred freshers’ sex method, becomes out of the question.


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That said, government guidelines now state that ‘You do not need to socially distance from someone you’re in an established relationship with’… so if you can figure out what an ‘established relationship’ is, get in one of those. And then let me know what on earth it means, because I haven’t a clue.

Until next time!

Lilith von Fuchs xx

This article was updated on 20/09 to emphasise that having sex outside of your household is against PHE advice.