- Pandemic sex drive is subject of scientific research, and there is a clear trend of people having lower libido.
- Some men and women experienced increased desire during lockdowns.
- There are many causes of low sex drive, with physical and mental health being the major reasons.
- Getting your libido back starts with taking care of yourself.
- Good partner communication will help you rebuild your intimacy.
- You can start reawakening your sex drive with a free audio course “Go back to good sex”
Pandemic sex drive rarely makes the headlines. Sure, there’s more important things in the world – people’s health and lives, the state of the economy. But on the human level our desire is so important. The more joy we have from being intimate with our partner, the easier it is to navigate these tough times. Let’s dig deeper into the problem, and find solutions.
Research on pandemic sex drive
Already in the first months after COVID-19 discovery scientists began analyzing its effects on our lives, including dating, relationships, and sex. Although we have many interesting reports on the topic, this is a constant work in progress. We also need more diversified studies as the majority focus on male-female couples.
Heterosexual couples are having less sex
A Turkish study of married and cohabiting couples revealed that intercourse fell off the list of priorities for many heterosexual couples. Frequency dropped significantly, as reported by female and male study participants.
For example, 47 percent of women said they made love twice a week before the pandemic. That percentage was 33 percent in the COVID period. Only 28 percent of men were sexually active once a week before the pandemic. As the Coronavirus hit, more guys enter that low frequency category (67 percent).
In addition, both genders admitted their sexual satisfaction in the pandemic was lower, compared to pre-COVID times.
Drop in desire levels among young people
Lockdowns and pandemic stress affected all generations. It’s not just older people who experience trouble in the bedroom these days. 22 percent of young Chinese complained about reduced desire in an online survey. Moreover, 41 percent limited their partnered sexual activity.
Pandemic libido increase for some
If you’ve been following media reports on COVID-19, you must have noticed how they focus on negative news. Humans have a tendency to concentrate on what’s wrong, instead of appreciating positivity.
And there have been positive signs, even in people’s bedrooms! While many studies noted decreases in desire and intercourse, opposite trends were visible too. Here are some examples:
- 12.1 percent of men and 18.7 percent of women had a sex drive increase during lockdown. A significant group people disclosed in a 2020 study they got more aroused in that period.
- One analysis shed some light on why people got hornier as the lockdowns started. For them, higher desire was a way to deal with the overwhelming fear of mortality (by the way, completely normal when an unknown virus conquers the world). Study participants sought intimacy, but also closeness with their partner.
Pandemic messed with women’s sexual satisfaction
Women seem to be particularly affected by the COVID situation. An Italian study analyzed sexuality of females of reproductive age in the social distancing period. The conclusion? Women went from six to about two sessions of lovemaking per month! Their levels of sexual satisfaction went down, and the Female Sexual Distress Scale was much higher.
Increase in masturbation and porn use
Even though the pandemic has changed intimacy in couples, several reports indicated more self-pleasuring. Another phenomenon of the past two years has been higher use of pornography. The media reported a huge spike in PornHub’s audience early in 2020.
Do these results mean that people have not lost their desire after all? Have they just switched interest from being with someone to pleasuring themselves? Not necessarily. Masturbation helps people destress, and watching erotic videos is a common way to get aroused when touching yourself.
Why you have low sex drive in pandemic?
Scientists are trying hard to make sense of our changing, pandemic sexuality, but each study seems to provide different insights. I’m not at all surprised. Intimacy is not easy subject to put into boxes. And there’s so much diversity that’s not being taken into account, for example the experiences of same-sex couples.
In the past few years, I have focused on helping women and couples with low desire. I’ve guided my clients through their sexual struggles as the news of the Coronavirus hit the world. I am also a human being, a mother of young child, an expat, living in a long-term relationship. I experienced firsthand the good and the bad side of lockdowns and pandemic worries. Here’s my take on why pandemic and low libido go together:
Stress and Depression
Think of your to-do list for today. Long, huh? Even if you don’t have one, you probably keep all those things you should do in your head. It piles up. And in the pandemic, well, the list got longer and heavier.
Between remembering to take out the trash, managing Zoom calls with one eye on babycam to make sure your kid is still alive out there (been there, done that), and worrying about the health of your parents, even a Zen master would feel stressed… or not, I don’t know, haven’t met any.
That constant tension and worrying radiates from our heads to our bodies. In the normal circumstances we may scrape up time to do YouTube yoga or meditate. With the pandemic measures in place, it got harder to practice self-care.
And there’s that even more serious stuff. Depression and Co. for example. Earlier research suggests that women with anxiety disorders have less sex, and whatever sex they are having, is not very satisfying. Same for depression. For most people this illness shows up as the inability to feel pleasure. That doesn’t translate well into the juiciness of desire, doesn’t it?
Parents of small children
I want to devote a separate section of this post to parents of small children. Maybe I’m biased but that stuff is hard as hell in the pandemic. And it sure can mess with our desire levels. Or get in the way of reviving the libido you lost when your baby was born, and you were all covered in love, mixed with a big amount of spill and poo.
The pandemic added another circle of hell for parents of small children, especially single parents, working parents, and expat parents who live away from family and friends. If you don’t have kids, you may not understand what the heck I’m talking about. After all, thanks to the lockdowns families finally could spend more quality time together. Well… I would argue with the term “quality”.
Most couples need a double income to make a living. This means two people, working from home, while parenting their child or children (I have one and it’s hard, I don’t know how people who have more manage…)
What it looks like in practice and why it’s so hard:
- You take turns to work, which means one of you stays up late or gets up super early to catch up, losing precious sleep and bonding time.
- If you’re both on a call at the same time, you can’t fully focus because you worry about your child’s safety, or the kid barges into the room and demands another snack, or a nose wipe (stress levels going up in 1,2,3…)
- You stop going on dates because arranging childcare in the time of Corona is close to impossible, and even if grandma and grandpa are around, you don’t want to put them at risk.
- You feel guilty about giving your children too much screen time and feeding them microwave meals (but how are you supposed to find any time for work if you don’t have access to childcare?)
These are just a few examples of difficulties and stressful situations that parents of small children encounter every day in the pandemic. Now, you get the idea why sex once a month becomes a luxury, and desire levels hit rock bottom.
We can’t discuss the impact of Coronavirus on desire without considering the effect of the infection itself. Millions of people have had the virus, and millions more will get infected or reinfected. Plus, there is the long COVID to worry about.
Some will have no health problems but for the unlucky few the virus may cause much harm. Here’s how COVID-19 can impact your sex drive:
- You may feel too tired to think about sex.
- Some men develop problems with erections.
- You may have headaches and all kinds of aches and pains – hard to think about intimacy when suffer.
- Breathing issues and heart problems may make it impossible to have vigorous sex.
- Some people have a distorted sense of smell and taste for a long time, which could make lovemaking less exciting.
How to get your libido back?
OK, so you understand why pandemic sex drive is a big problem. You’re probably still wondering what to do about it. Don’t worry, I am here to help you get started.
Get your health sorted
Whether you had COVID-19 or not, your health may have deteriorated in these pandemic years. Unless you were one of those enthusiasts who took to running or bought a spinning bike and started regular workouts, you most likely lost some of your hard-won habits. Blame the closed gym or the stay-at-home mode and more time to cook comfort foods — many people gained weight in the pandemic.
Other aspects of your health may have suffered as well. Perhaps you took to smoking, or a daily drink became your best friend and comfort? And let’s not forget mental health. Depression and anxiety have skyrocketed in these uncertain times.
Whatever it is, to get your libido back, you need to balance your physical and mental health. The energy to dance between the sheets comes from our bodies, but the enthusiasm to choose sex over a TV show comes from your mind.
Start with yourself
Every happy relationship starts with two (or more) individuals living a happy life of their own. Same applies to sex. If you want to enjoy intimacy again, remind yourself what it felt like to have orgasms. Start by nurturing a warm and loving relationship with yourself.
Take time to be on your own, and do pleasurable things for you. And make love to yourself! Masturbation is a great way to awaken your sexual energy. Instead of buying another outfit online, why not get yourself a nice sex toy to make the comeback fun?
Talk, talk, talk
I know it’s a cliché, but I will keep repeating this: good sex starts with a good sex talk. Intimate communication will help you take a temperature check of your relationship, and find solutions to get desire back.
So, next time your partner initiates sex, instead of finding yet another excuse, try to be honest. Don’t stop at saying “I’m too tired”. Say how it makes you feel to be exhausted, and why that is. Ask your partner how they feel about the lack of intimacy in your relationship.
The more you talk about it, the less guilty you will feel. And from there, you can start looking for solutions. If you get stuck, I’m happy to help you decide what to do to awaken your libido.
Touch, touch, touch
The first step to rebuilding intimacy is usually touch. A word of warning: this may not be the case if you’re a touched out mom. If you feel like your kids are constantly hanging on to you, you need some rest from touch.
I know it’s hard to say no to a kid who wants a hug, but if they pull on your hands, or wiggle around, hitting you on the head by accident, you have every right to move away, or ask your partner to take over (if you have that luxury).
Anyone else should try going back to sex gradually. Start with non-sexual touch, like stroking your partner’s hair, or asking them to massage your feet. Go as slow as you need, and if your lover is in a hurry, listen to your own needs and tell them to slow down. They can pleasure themselves if you’re not ready for more.
Go back to good sex
If you’re experiencing low sex drive in the pandemic, don’t blame yourself. It’s normal to feel stressed and tense, and out of touch with yourself when there’s so much uncertainty, and you’ve made so many changes in your life.
Be mindful that the longer you avoid sex and don’t do anything about your libido, the harder it may be to go back. I know from my clients that many relationship conflicts revolve around the bedroom. It starts from avoiding intercourse, and sooner than you know, you stop touching altogether.
You don’t need to force yourself to have sex. But it helps to start prioritizing your erotic energy again. Paying attention to it. It’s like a habit you have to cultivate. And choose over and over again. Believe me, I know. I also make conscious decisions every day to keep my desire alive.
Look, we don’t know at this point how long this pandemic will last. Don’t wait too long before you do something about your sex drive. I can help you get started. For free.
Join my upcoming free webinar “Get Your Desire Back in 2022”. I will gently guide you to understand why you lost your libido in the pandemic, and help you make first steps to feel happy in bed again.