The only safe ass to eat during the coronavirus pandemic is your own. Since you probably can’t do that (if you can, please reach out, we’d love to hear from you), the second safest ass to eat is that of your live-in partner. Along with all other sex acts, leaving the home for anal activities is off limits: Right now, it’s not safe to do pretty much anything that involves getting less than six feet apart from people you don’t already live with.
New York City’s Health Department released an official guide on March 21st, all about safe sex practices during the coronavirus. It states that while solo sex is best, sex with people you’re quarantined with is also okay. If you’re going to have sex with someone outside of your inner circle, they recommend washing your hands before and after sex, avoiding kissing and using condoms for oral and anal sex in particular.
While we know the virus is transmitted through nose, eye and mouth contact, sex acts are risky even if you avoid each other’s faces. One partner might unknowingly be carrying the virus and could spread nasal or saliva droplets just by talking. Recently, though, we learned that butts can carry the virus, too –– not that your butt can get sick itself, but that fecal-to-oral transmission is possible. In other words, social distancing has already dictated this, but ass-eating randos is now officially off the table.
Interestingly, beyond the problem of pandemics, ass-eating and other sexual activities do a lot to your immune system. As clean as you might be, there’s a solid chance some fecal matter will be passed around during sex, even when assplay isn’t involved. This is what typically causes urinary tract infections in people with vaginas after intercourse. But studies have also found that couples often share a similar gut microbiome, a phenomenon that can be the result of inadvertent fecal-oral transmission — like it or not, you’re probably being exposed to your partner’s invisible poop particles. While fecal-oral transmission could share bad bacteria and viruses like gastroenteritis or hepatitis A, it’s also possible that it could share good bacteria as well.
Bacterial diversity is beneficial to our immune system, making us less susceptible to severe illness. Going outside, playing with animals and interacting with people are all generally beneficial to our immune system, as this exposes us to more bacteria.
“Partners that are sexually active have similar immune systems because they’re influenced by the same factors –– eating habits, exercise and physical activity, including sex,” says Shannon Chavez, a psychologist and sexual health expert. “Living in the same environment also makes you as susceptible to the same germs and pollutants, so you have a similar immune response as you’re fighting off these things. During sex, partners exchange fluids, germs and bacteria, which can affect your immune system, too.”
More specifically, in a study of 670 people in Nature from February 2016, researchers found that there is “50 percent less immunological variation between individuals who share an environment than between people in the wider population.” This means if your partner has a stronger immune system than your own, you might acquire some of that strengthened immunity as you share their bacteria.
But beyond the sharing of bacteria, sex is good for immunity in itself –– even solo. “Stress is terrible for our immune system,” says certified sexologist Lanae St. John. That’s because stress causes inflammation, which weakens the immune system. “Any method that helps to relieve it is a good idea to me, sexual or otherwise. Arousal and orgasm begin the cocktail of our brain chemistry and release access to this innate ‘pharmacy.’ Serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins all play a part in helping us boost our mood.”
In a time where we’re pent up in our homes and worrying about millions of people dying, having sex with ourselves or a live-in partner is beneficial for our mental and physical health, even if, maybe, it’s not the first thing on our minds. “It releases tension in the body, pent-up emotions, relaxes the muscles and increases blood-flow circulation which helps detox the body and keep all systems in balance,” explains Chavez.
Those feel-good vibes can multiply, too. “Sex also boosts your mood and energy levels, which can lead to healthy habits such as exercise and physical activity,” Chavez continues. “Oxytocin is released during sex, which triggers feelings of safety and bonding,” meaning you might find your co-habitation situation a bit more pleasant afterward as well.
In terms of your long-term immune system, sex plays a complicated role. During the pandemic, it’s not a good time to try out some new partners and get exposed to new bacteria. But while you’re locked indoors with yourself or your boo, you might as well take advantage of the immune-boosting pleasures available — ass-eating among them.