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The first days of staying holed up at home as a result of living through the COVID-19 pandemic might have presented an opportunity for intimate loved ones to reconnect in ways they hadn’t in years. But as the days turned into weeks, you may have noticed that getting in an intimate mood is becoming harder and harder.
If you’ve noticed your libido dwindling, you’re not alone. As per usual, there are a variety of biological, emotional and lifestyle factors that play into this—and there’s something you can do about (some) of it.
The biology of it all
While sex has turned into a pleasurable passtime for humans, remember that the primary driver of sex is to procreate—aka have babies. Living in a time of high existential stress can make most animals—homo sapiens included—less likely to want to reproduce. The uncertainty of the future can bog us down at the best of times, all the more so when it feels like our lives are at stake. Throw in a situation where one or both partners is no longer collecting a regular paycheque, and the anxiety can be overwhelming—and wanting to get it on no longer sounds or feels appealing.
A wrench in things
Whatever exercise routine you were into pre-COVID has almost certainly been altered for the worse. Gym, yoga and exercise studios have been shut down in Canada since the middle of March. And no matter how disciplined you are at working out from home and getting out for a run, it likely won’t replace all the endorphins and burnt calories. A sedentary life can have many negative health effects, including erectile dysfunction (ED).
You may have also experienced marked changes to your eating habits. Even the most stocked office kitchen doesn’t compare to the ease and lack of accountability involved in walking 30 feet to your home kitchen and snacking with reckless abandon. And if you’re not keeping your pantry full, mobile orders will have certainly increased. Packing on a few extra pounds is a sure way to make anyone feel a little more trepidation about entering the bedroom.
Extra face time was good, for a bit
No matter how much love there is between two or more partners, spending exponentially more time in close proximity is sure to cause a few irritants. Where briefly seeing your loved one in the morning followed by 4-5 evenings per week spent together might have been the norm before the novel coronavirus, spending 24-hours a day in the same space isn’t always conducive to romance. Even if one of you worked at home prior to the country-wide lockdown, the time to quickly tidy things up and close all the kitchen cupboards vanished when working from home was mandated for everyone.
Indulging in indulgent behaviour
We might find ourselves more frequently turning to alcohol and marijuana to pass those long hours inside. Sales at government owned BC Liquor Stores spiked 40% at the beginning of the health crisis—newly legalized marijuana stores in some parts of the country are seeing increases as well. Regular alcohol abuse has been linked with a variety of sexual issues in men, including erectile dysfunction. What’s more, a 2020 study of nearly 4,000 men found that ED was almost twice as common among cannabis smokers as non-smokers.Credit: Becca Tapert/Unsplash
But this won’t last forever
Unhealthy lifestyle choices and overbearing stress and anxiety negatively impact sex drive at the best of times. But despite the uncertainty surrounding a return to normal life (including what a “normal life” might look like), there will be a time when we aren’t fully engulfed by a global pandemic. Reminding ourselves of this fact—and communicating it with your partner—is important if you’re finding yourself less likely to hop in the sheets.
In the meantime, lending an ear to loved ones so they can voice their anxieties and frustrations can also be helpful. And remember that intimate time doesn’t automatically involve sex. Planning a night to spend some quality time watching a movie close together on the couch or even reading a book can be beneficial to the relationship.
The bottom line is: it’s normal to feel stressed right now—and it’s normal to not want to have sex when you’re stressed. So don’t add more stress onto your life by overanalyzing why you’re feeling this way.