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Sex in the age of coronavirus: how to protect yourself in a pandemic

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Sex in the age of coronavirus: how to protect yourself in a pandemic
Copyright  MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP
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Confinement, quarantine, and social distancing: the strategies of containing a pandemic are not exactly conducive to romantic relationships or dating.

But for those who can't resist the temptation of sex and relationships, there are ways in which you can protect yourself.

As New York becomes a new hub for coronavirus spread in the United States, with the cases in the US state matching the number in some European countries, the state's largest city's health department put out a handy guide.

Their number one tip: "You are your safest sex partner."

That's right - masturbation does not spread COVID-19 coronavirus, especially if you wash your hands and any sex toys you may use before doing so!

"But but... we are horny," responded comedian Lane Moore in a tweet to the guide's suggestion.

So if solitary pleasure isn't satisfactory, the NYC health department guide suggests avoiding close contact - and therefore sex - with anyone outside your household.

The virus has been found in the faeces of people who are infected but not in semen or vaginal fluid. But since it is spread through respiratory droplets so kissing can easily pass the virus.

Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after any sexual activity is also important, the guide says. This is a key tip of many disease control agencies right now.

They also issued a reminder to practice safe sex by using condoms and birth control to protect against other diseases such as HIV that spread through sexual transmission.

But some say sex and new intimate relationships will have to move into the virtual sphere during this pandemic.

For those who online date already, "video dates, sexting or chat rooms" could be an option, the NYC health department guide says.

Dating website and application OkCupid even tweeted: "We don’t know who needs to hear this, but now is NOT the time to go out with your date to a bar. FaceTime, Skype, call, text, call, message on our app....all very romantic right now."

They point out that you can social distance and flirt at the same time.

Meanwhile, dating app Tinder has made one of their services free so people can meet others around the world online.

"Social distancing doesn’t have to mean disconnecting," the application tweeted.

And according to some, confinement might already be having an effect on pornographic consumption.

The porn website PornHub has seen an 11.6 per cent rise in traffic since early February.

After confinement began in Italy, the website offered its premium service for free and saw a 57 per cent rise in traffic on March 12. The same service was offered in France and Spain where traffic rose 38.2% and 61.3% respectively on March 17, the website said in a statement.

But if you become "addicted" to porn, your imagination becomes "linked to it" which is a risk during these lockdowns, sex therapist Mathilde Robert said in an interview with France 3.

"There are many other ways to masturbate," she added.