Wearing a mask during sex has been given a whole new meaning.
Packing up your life and moving from the protection of your parental home to the squalor-cum-chaos of university halls brings with it a whole host of hitherto unexperienced freedoms for the new fresher. Not least does it mean no longer will there be anyone to nag you about the state of your bedroom or the fact that you’re making your way through your third microwave ready meal of the day – finally, you have the time and space to get frisky in the comfort of your own home. Gone are the days of making out on park benches because neither of your parents go out on weekends; of trying to get down to it in the hour between getting home from school and your dad finishing work; of trying to covertly fit in some heavy petting behind the slightly-ajar-door with the TV blaring so your mum can’t hear that you very much are not studying. For many, university will be the first time they’re able to actually explore sex in any meaningful way – those halls bedrooms have really seen some stuff.
Yet this is 2020, the year that seemingly nothing goes to plan. So, what does Covid-19 mean for freshers hoping to get jiggy with it?
It looks like universities are trying to discourage freshers from bringing one-night stands (or even long-term partners) back to halls of residence flats so as not to disrupt the cluster household system; whereby flatmates will mostly work and study together to try and minimise unnecessary social contact and reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading across campus. Students at the University of Bristol have been warned that they could be fined for bringing anyone outside of this household back to their flat, meaning a one-night stand could cost you more than your dignity. Whilst there isn’t any word on similar fines here at Glasgow, halls of residence operated by the University have currently suspended the overnight guest option, whereby a resident can sign a visitor in to stay with them overnight at the halls reception. Although, given the fact that nobody followed this official procedure for guests anyway, I’m not sure how much effect this will have on keeping one person to a bed this semester.
In the absence of being able to drag some random you met in Beer Bar back to your Murano cesspit, you may be considering sleeping with one of your new flatmates instead. You do already constitute a household after all, and if one of them has Covid-19 symptoms you’ll all have to isolate, so you might as well get whatever you can out of this unideal situation – right? Wrong. I don’t know which of you needs to hear this, but no matter what, do not sleep with your flatmates. You have to live with these people for at least a year, the sexual satisfaction you’ll get (if any) simply isn’t worth the months of awkwardly avoiding eye contact over the cornflake box in the communal kitchen.
Where does all of this leave the randy fresher? After all, you can’t physically have sex with someone whilst maintaining a social distance. Well, the official advice from Sandyford, our local sexual health clinic, is that you should try to avoid having sex with people outside of your household or extended household wherever possible. However, it seems a little unrealistic to assume freshers' will all be fine just pleasing themselves for a full year. So, if you are planning on having sex anyway, then there are some precautions you can take.
Make sure to use condoms or dental dams for all contact with genitals to reduce your contact with semen or saliva – even though it is believed transmission is unlikely through genital on genital contact, there haven’t been enough studies into this so it’s best to take precautions (and you should want to use these to avoid potential STIs anyway). Sandyford will post you a supply of condoms for free if you fill out their online form (https://www.sandyford.scot/sexual-health-services/free-condoms/) and you can usually also pick them up for free at various locations around campus. Avoid kissing as this can increase your likelihood of contracting Covid-19, so this may mean wearing masks during sex with new partners. If you do want to maintain distance from one another whilst having sex, you could try mutually using sex toys from a two-metre distance – just make sure to wash them before and after use and never to share them with one another. And although it goes without saying, we’ll shout this one for the people in the back: absolutely, under no circumstances, should you be having physical sexual contact with anyone if you or another member of your household are exhibiting symptoms or having to self-isolate for any reason. This applies vice versa as well – don’t be afraid to ask these questions to a potential partner before getting close enough to unzip their jeans.
Although it may not be the first foray into sexual independence you were expecting this year, it’s important to keep yourself and those around you as safe as possible. So, make sure to wrap up, mask up, and do your research before you rock the bed this year.