Health

Should I Worry About How Much I'm Jerking off in Quarantine?

Is three times a day normal or too much? We answered our readers' horny dilemmas.

by Manisha Krishnan
May 6 2020, 1:54pm

We’ve been physically distancing for nearly two months now and a lot of us are feeling horny, among other big emotions.

So, for this week’s Should I?, we’re answering reader’s dilemmas about sex during the pandemic.

First up, here’s Fred:

Should I limit how much I jerk off? I live alone and currently yank it three to five times a day, often purely because I'm bored. Will this affect my sensitivity or libido long-term? Also I'm worried that being alone for so long will suddenly make me shy or weird around people when quarantine is lifted.

With a lot of people being limited to their homes alone, it’s understandable that folks might be cranking it more than usual.

According to certified sex therapist Melissa Novak, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

“Not everyone is taking this time to accomplish all their lifelong goals,” she said, noting that while some people are masturbating often, others may be comforting themselves by vegging out on their favourite snacks.

Dealing with an ethical dilemma related to the coronavirus pandemic? We'd love to hear from you. You can contact Manisha Krishnan through this survey , or at manisha.krishnan@vice.com or on Twitter @manishakrishnan .

“I also think masturbation could be a productivity value if we’re talking about pleasure and self-soothing.”

Novak said there’s no research showing that masturbating often will lower libido or make your genitals less sensitive to other types of stimulation.

But if you feel like masturbating is interfering with other aspects of your life, or you don’t want to do anything else, there could be cause for concern.

She said you could also potentially run into issues if you engage in a “significantly different idiosyncratic masturbation style.”

“There was somebody who masturbated by rubbing themselves on a door frame,” she said. “That’s really hard to duplicate.” But there are ways of overcoming that type of problem, she added.

As far as feeling self-conscious about dating or being intimate after lockdown eases up, Novak said “we’re all going to be weird.”

“If I were on a date with somebody and they said... ‘It’s so weird to be sitting in front of someone and to be able to touch someone’—that is a conversation starter. I don’t know many people who would be like, ‘I don’t know, go fuck yourself’.”

For the time being, she said people can maintain romantic interactions on dating apps and can use this time to think about what they want out of a relationship.

Novak also said there are ways to be creative in lockdown. In terms of sex, you can play up the tension of not being able to touch someone you’re into.

While a lot of us are hung up in the idea of not being touched again for a long time, she said we should investigate what kind of touch we’re looking for and see if we can come up with solutions.

If it’s a soothing touch we’re craving, we can wrap ourselves in a blanket; if it’s a healing touch, we can give ourselves a massage or get a tool to assist.

“It doesn’t always have to be the 10/10,” she said. “Sure, maybe me massaging myself is a C- at best. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.”

Verdict: Jerking off a lot is fine unless it’s severely impacting other aspects of your life. And don’t worry about being “weird” after lockdown lifts, because none of us will be unscathed.

If you’ve been chatting with someone for weeks and want to have sex and you’ve both been isolating, can you be each other’s quaran-tings? -Tracy

Halifax-based epidemiologist Kevin Wilson said if you weren’t in regular contact with this person before the pandemic, “do you need to start being in contact with them during the pandemic?”

Wilson said he hasn’t seen anything that suggests COVID-19 spreads through anal and vaginal sex specifically, but if you’re making out and having sex, you’re obviously at a higher risk of transmitting the virus through respiratory droplets. There is also evidence that suggests coronavirus sheds through feces, so it could pass on via rimming.

Wilson said each person has to weigh their individual risks, looking at things like whether or not they live with anyone, or if they’re in contact with anyone who is immunocompromised.

In a previous column, we discussed seeing your partner and concluded that you can minimize the risk if you both live alone, work from home, and don’t have to use public transit to get to each other.

Some of the same rules apply here. If you’re going on a physically distanced date outside, keeping enough space between you, Wilson said “that’s relatively low risk.”

But he cautioned that a lot of these scenarios are based on the idea that everyone is physically distancing perfectly—which they aren’t.

“You getting COVID-19 is not necessarily the end point of whatever choices you make. It can have consequences for other people too.”

Michael Burtch, gay men’s community education and resource coordinator for the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), said there are lots of alternatives to having sex during the pandemic, including: sexting, filming sexy videos, writing an erotic story, and masturbating.

He said in spite of stereotypes about gay men being promiscuous, a recent survey shows that LGBT people are committed to helping flatten the curve.

But Burtch said ACT recognizes that “people have a need to feel desired, to experience physical pleasure and to be loved.”

In terms of harm reduction, he said those considering hooking up should ideally be doing it with someone they live with; the next best thing is someone who is already their sexual partner and has also been isolating.

He said they should be comfortable having frank conversations about things like what happens if one person gets sick.

“Do you feel like you can reach out and tell them and they will self-quarantine?”

If you’re going to hook-up, realize that you may contract COVID-19, so you should have 14-days of food stockpiled.

ACT also recommends requiring a partner to wash their hands thoroughly before any sexual contact; minimizing the number of sexual partners; washing any sex toys; avoiding touching the face as much as possible; asking partners how they’re feeling; and avoiding hooking up with anyone who has travelled.

Verdict: If you’re not living with someone, try to avoid casual hookups right now. But if you’re going to go ahead with it, weigh all the risks, have open conversations with your sexual partner, and plan for the worst case scenario.

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