Communication and Coronavirus
How We Can Use Our Interpersonal Relationship Skills to Communicate About COVID-19 Safety
By Felix Hart
As we learn to live in the era of coronavirus, learning how to communicate about potential spread and contamination risk is vital. Recently, I have been struck with how similar these discussions can be with sexual health discussions around sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Questions like, “When was the last time you were tested?,” and “Who have you come in contact with since then and what do you know about their sexual history?” feel very similar to questions around COVID like “Who do you live with, and who have you come in close contact with recently?” and “What are the risk factors at their jobs and homes?”
There’s a big difference between having sex with someone and getting within 6 feet with them, but the conversations require the same kind of honesty about risk and precausions taken. The words seem similar when vetting a new sexual partner as they are when discussing boundaries with a person who you want to be in a “germ family” with.
Unsure where to start? Here are some potential questions to address with people you are close to right now:
- What have their previous exposure and risk factors been?
- What steps are you both taking to stay safer and reduce risk?
- How will you communicate when a new exposure happens, or if someone in your world gets sick? How will safety precautions change if someone does get sick?
To make these types of conversations easier, plan to set aside a time to talk specifically. These conversations can feel awkward, and people may initially be reluctant to have them. Acknowledging that there is stigma and shame around illness can help us understand why many of us are hesitant to share our STI status or make plans for if one of us gets sick. Try starting by discussing why you feel the need to have the conversation in the first place. This will ensure that everyone’s concerns are heard and can be properly honored.
Just as with STIs, there is a shame-and-blame mentality emerging in our culture around this virus. This mindset is important to recognize so that we can unlearn it and change the narrative.
It’s important to recognise that getting an STI is a normal part of being sexually active--in fact, the CDC reports that more than 1 in 6 adults have genital herpes!¹ Similarly, getting Covid-19 is possible even if the person has maintained physical distancing guidelines and worn a mask whenever they have left the house. In neither situation should the person be stigmatized. Instead, we must offer resources to help those who need it to receive the care they need.
Everyone has a different risk profile when it comes to Covid-19. Some of us are immunocompromised or older, and getting sick could have dire consequences. Some of us are connected to someone who is at greater risk so we need to take more precautions. But whatever your risk profile is, communicating about it to those you live with and come into contact with is essential to keep those at a higher risk safe during this time.
Good communication skills are always amongst the most important tools we have in our relationships with others, and this strange new time we are living in is proving that. We only hope that this opportunity to better hone these skills will last long after the end of this pandemic!
Felix Hart is an As You Like It employee who brings a systemic, interconnected viewpoint to relationships, communication, health, and education. They have a background in cellular biology and are currently a Couples and Family Therapist intern at the University of Oregon centering diverse sexualities, identities and relationship structures.
This article was originally published 2/13/20 by the Eugene Weekly.
Written by As You Like It Employee, Melissa Padgett
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and you may be tempted to buy your sweetheart something sexy — but what? Chocolates? Massage Oils? Lingerie? Sex toys? All are excellent choices. But while some are easy to shop for, some are more of a challenge — especially if you want to surprise your sweetheart.(more…)
Pleasure for Every Body: The need for discussion of disability in sex
By keisha janney
Having a satisfying and pleasurable sex life should be available to everybody and every body who wants to have one.
Sadly, one marginalized group in particular exists whose sexual health and wellness is still rarely addressed: disabled people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in four, or nearly 61 million, adults in the United States live with a disability. That means you or someone you know is probably living with a disability.
Unfortunately, we get a lot of messages from the mainstream media that tell us that we should be having sex in particular ways, or in some cases, not having sex at all. In the media, we rarely see positive images of disabled people. It is even more rare to see disabled people having sex. More often, we are portrayed as sexless and undesirable. Yet, like most adults, disabled adults also desire a full range of sexual pleasure!
Disabled people might benefit from additional tools to help them explore their full pleasure potential. There are a range of items that can be used to reduce barriers and to help create pleasure. The following are a few ideas for people with physical disabilities to experience pleasure.
For many bodies, using a firm foam wedge can be used to position yourself or your partner(s). A wedge can provide more support than a typical pillow and can be used in a variety of positions. Slip a wedge underneath your hips while you are on your stomach for penetration or stimulation from behind. Position the wedge under your hips while on your back to relieve pressure on your back or hips and still get a great angle for oral or penetrative sex.
For solo play, there are a variety of options for people with penises or vaginas. For clitoral stimulation, vibrating wands carry a lot of power and a longer handle that can be easier to hold than a traditional bullet sized vibrator. Some wands even minimize vibration in the handle to minimize irritation to a nerve injury or carpal tunnel.
There are also several styles of insertable toys that can be put in place and operated with a remote or via Bluetooth. For stimulating a penis, vibrating sleeves can be used with an erect or flaccid penis to create pleasurable sensation. Additionally, there are a wide variety of anal plugs that vibrate, rotate and stimulate any backside!
Sometimes barriers to pleasure might require the support of a professional. If you and/or your partner(s) are experiencing sexual difficulties related to disabilities, consider reaching out for assistance. Eugene has several intimacy coaches, couples therapists and physical therapists who specialize in working with bodies of all abilities. These are professionals who have specific experience to help you find the pleasure you desire.
Pleasureable sex is not out of reach for any body!
Keisha Janney, MS, CFT, is a part of The Eugene Intimate Health Center and an individual and relational therapist in private practice. In addition to her work, Janney enjoys crafting, volunteering and spending time with her dog. For more info: eugeneintimatehealthcenter.org.
This article was originally published in the Eugene Weekly.
Lube is one of the essentials for a healthy and pleasurable sex life! And the lube you choose can unbelievably enhance your play, or ruin the moment entirely.
There are four main kinds of lubricants on the market today: water-based, silicone-based, hybrid, and coconut oil. Each kind of base has its own benefits and drawbacks, and potentially the most important factor when choosing a lube is preference. That’s why we encourage you to find a shop with testers available (like As You Like It!) so that you can feel, smell, and taste your options before buying. Some lubricants are warming or tingling, while some are flavored and edible! There is a vast range of lubricant options available, so no matter what you’re looking for in a lubricant, one exists that is perfect for you.
But how do you remember all rules for using lube? And how do you know what kind of lube to use for what kind of play? Great question! We made you handy chart to use as a cheat sheet.
These rules are not always hard and fast. Always ask a doctor or a sex educator you trust if you are unsure. For example, although silicone is a body-safe material, there is some debate on whether or not it is balanced with vaginal PH. However, for people who experience painful vaginal intercourse, a silicone lubricant may be your doctor’s recommended lubrication for vaginal sex. All bodies are different, and everyone’s body responds differently. We encourage you to explore your own chemistry!
In your exploration, remember that not all lubricants are created equal. Because lubricants belong to a relatively unregulated industry, you must be cautious and do your research when deciding what brand of lube to purchase. Not all lubricants on the market are body safe. Please be sure you are reading the ingredients of any lubricant that you are considering purchasing, and to know what to look out for, or make sure to purchase from a store that you trust to carry body-safe products, like As You Like It!
Bear in mind that even lubricants with the same base can have extremely different properties, including cushion, drag, texture, and scent. And no two lubricants are exactly alike, so if you haven’t found one that you love yet, keep looking! Your perfect lube match is out there — you just have to find it!
Tips For Setting the Mood:
In my youth, my former partner and I made a habit of playing loud music almost every time we decided to have sex. This is because each of had lots of roommates and thin walls. It probably clued them off what we were doing because our classic choice was the album ‘Kid A’ by Radiohead. I might be dating myself, but this was a time before internet radio and mp3 players were really a thing so if it was a particularly good night for us, they’d have to listen to the entire record twice.
The Often-Overlooked Wand
Back in the day, your option for a good vibrator was limited. To one side was a cheap, pointed plastic tube you’d pop a couple of D sized batteries into (which ALWAYS rattled loudly after a bit). It just screamed THIS IS A VIBRATOR Y’ALL. The plastic tube was the ultimate first vibrator for many of us. It went through batteries like I go through a bag of potato chips and was purely utilitarian. My fondest memories of my first vibrator mostly involved hiding it from parents and roommates.
Buy It Once Products That Last A Lifetime:
Introducing our As You Like It: Buy It Once Certification. These are toys that, with ordinary care and use, will last a lifetime. Toys that can safely last for your lifetime are beneficial to your sexuality, will save money over time, and promote a more eco-conscious way of shopping. No motorized toys will make the list, because after a certain period of use even the best made motorized toy can break. So, enjoy this (non-exhaustive) list of toys and companies we believe will serve you well as long as you want to use them.
Engage Your Lover with an Intimate Gift, Part 2
“Happiness is what sex is all about. Sex toys enhance one of the most playful and liberating parts of adult lives. For many women, a good vibrator can mean the difference between having orgasms and just wondering about them.” Sex Toys 101: A Playfully Uninhibited Guide,” Rachel Venning & Claire Cavanah.
Engage Your Lover Intimate Gift Guide, Part 1
“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.” Rumi
For those who celebrate gift-giving this time of year, you have an easy opportunity to deepen intimacy with a partner—or yourself, using sensual and erotic gifts as a springboard.
“Erectile Dysfunction” (“ED”) is the common term for describing a man’s inability to achieve and/or retain an erection and sometimes is paired with lowered libido. That said most men over 50 experience a decline in erectile function, which is an entirely normal attribute of the aging process and the decline of testosterone. Unfortunately, our culture has convinced men that they are lacking if not equipped with a firm erection on demand and Big pharma would have us believe that a softer, less predictable erection is something that couples need to fix with drugs such as Viagra.