COVID-19 has been a part of everyone’s lives globally now for almost two years and it doesn’t show signs of slowing, even as vaccinations across the globe have been taking place. The pandemic has been affecting people's lives in many ways since it started, but perhaps a lesser talked about area it’s affecting is how COVID may be affecting your sexlife. In this article, we’ll be looking at how COVID-19 may have had an impact on your libido and what you can do to get it back - safely.
Why COVID-19 has Affected Sex Drives
These are undoubtedly stressful times for many around the world, so it isn’t surprising that this is one of the key factors that has contributed to people's lack of libido. In fact, in recent studies, worries surrounding low libidos are highly prevalent across certain populations, ranging from 10-40%.
There are also concerns surrounding Erectile Dysfunction as a key side-effect of COVID-19. Currently, there is no solid data that explores the relationship between COVID-19 and the additional risk of developing ED, it is true that the high risk demographic of health troubles that cause ED and those at most risk of contracting COVID do correlate. As such, it is important to consider the role of other elements such as stress, anxiety, and other outside issues, especially when considering the potential of developing ED amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind this
Stress & Anxiety
While the pandemic is causing a lot of different kinds of stress, one of the biggest stresses is financial stress - a specific type of survival stress. People tend to have sex for reasons such as pleasure just as much as they do for reproduction. However, survival stress can have an adverse effect on your body’s capacity or enthusiasm for reproducing.
Survival stress tends to send the body into a state of fight or flight, so the only thing that matters is survival, not procreating. As a result, your libido goes on the backburner until you feel a release from this type of pressure.
There is also the anxiety of feeling safe when coming into intimate contact with loved ones, in case they may be sick or if you could be sick yourself. This may mean that, no matter how intimate you want to be with them, you hold back because of this fear.
Many gyms, fitness studios, outdoor areas and even restaurants have closed on and off in order to enforce social distancing. As such, the chances are high that your exercise routine, eating habits, or both have been forced to change.
Any time you adjust your eating, exercise, or sleeping habits, it is bound to have an effect on your body, This can be especially so with your hormone balances. And when your hormones go through sudden changes, so can your libido.
Spending too much time with S/O
People used to see their significant other at different times, whether that be every day after work or less. With the pandemic, this may have been shifted to seeing each other all day, every day via remote work or to barely at all due to social distancing.
If it’s the former then you may end up losing their excitement of seeing each other at the end of the day. That enforced closeness can mean that there are more opportunities to cause irritation due to the aforementioned stress. Plus, if you have children, any child-rearing or housework imbalances may be intensified now that you’re both at home.
Due to both the above factors, we may be consuming more substances we use to destress ourselves - whether that be food, alcohol or even drugs. If you’re consuming more alcohol, marijuana, or other substances, it might be a good idea to contact a therapist or find a support group to talk to, many now are available online..
This increased alcohol, food or drug consumption can lead to other problems, as it has been linked to sexual dysfunction, at least for people with penises. If this starts having an effect on your sex life, then again it might be worth reaching out to a medical expert for advice.
It should likewise be noted that excessive alcohol, overconsumption of food and substance use can also be linked to various serious health issues such as cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
What to Do to Regain your Libido
There haven't been many studies into the longer-term effects of this pandemic (even if you didn't catch the virus), but currently, there is no reason to worry too much about the loss in libido if you believe the causes are these temporary measures to stop the spread of COVID.
Your sex drive may be one of the first things to go when you’re living through the pandemic, but it may also be one of the first things to return post-pandemic. If you aren’t too worried that your sex drive has lowered recently, then keeping your lifestyle as it currently is may be a safe bet. However, if having no libido is causing you more distress, there are ways that you can try to improve your situation.
Masturbation can be one of the best ways to allow either yourself or your partner to release some tension if you aren’t in the mood. Not only is masturbation healthy even if you are in a relationship, but it can also help to increase your own libido steadily. Besides, even if your libido doesn’t skyrocket after masturbating if you orgasm you’ll get to reap the stress-relieving benefits of that release.
You could also try some responsive desire. There tends to be two types of desire: spontaneous and responsive. Spontaneous is precisely as it seems: spontaneous. It generally shows up in an instant.
Responsive desire is when you get those “I want it” feelings in response to stimulation. For example, you aren’t really in the mood but your partner starts kissing your neck gently, this may stimulate responsive desire. It should be noted, however, that if this doesn’t work, and it won’t always, to respect your partner's response, knowing that a no is a no, and to communicate accordingly.
Most importantly for your sexual wellness, you should focus on yourself. As coronavirus stress can very likely be what’s flattening your sex drive, doing any sort of stress-relieving activities should help your libido to slowly return. Maybe meditation, reading a book, doing yoga, showering, talking to your friends, or playing games could help. Whatever works to help you feel better both physically and mentally.
While we are still in the midpoint of the COVID-19 pandemic with physical distancing practices still largely in place, some people will find that their libido spikes while others may see it disappear altogether. It should be noted that in these unprecedented times that both are completely normal and healthy responses to stress and life upheaval. What is important is how you handle yourself in the meantime. Steering clear of practises that may make things worse and instead engaging in activities that will boost your physical and mental wellness.
COVID-19 has had a big effect on a lot of people’s sex drives and love lives, but masturbation can be considered a good, safe way to not only destress but to help self-care and regain your libido slowly. If you’re looking for something new to try to relief some stress, you could always try adding self-pleasure to your self-care routine.