Is lockdown affecting our sex drives?

If you’ve noticed a change in your sex drive since the lockdown started, you’re likely not the only one.

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting nationwide lockdown has had a far-reaching and possibly irrevocable impact on our lives.

That impact may well stretch as far as our libidos, with Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney, telling that stress, which hasn’t exactly been in short supply since the pandemic started, could be to blame if you’re feeling less randy than you normally might.

She said: ‘The most obvious effect of anxiety on your sex life is a lowered libido, or desire to have sex. Higher levels of cortisol are associated with anxiety and stress emotions, and high cortisol can suppress sex hormones that impact desire. Having sex when you’re feeling anxious is also basically like asking your mind to multitask, which is hard to do.

‘You are faced with two competing interests for the same neurological system – your anxiety and your sexual activity. It’s not surprising you may struggle to get in the mood.’

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Counselling Directory member Monika Dedus says couples are not exempt from a lockdown libido change, telling us: ‘Recently, I’ve had many more couples seeking therapeutic advice together rather than individually.

‘Depending on the stage and length of the relationship, couples who are going through lockdown together, have reported experiencing intimacy issues being magnified by living in the same space 24/7 alongside personal and professional pressures, as well as their mental health issues.

‘For some couples, the first couple of weeks of being stuck together felt a bit like a holiday with an increase in sexual drive and desire. However, for some this soon has changed into a “Groundhog Day feeling” and intimacy and sex may have significantly decreased.

‘As one of my new clients pointed out “there is nowhere to hide now from problems when we are stuck in the same space together and sex is not really on the menu”’

‘But,’ Annabelle Knight says, ‘no two people are the same.

‘Many people use sex as a stress-buster and will masturbate more and engage in full sexual activity more during a stressful time like lockdown. They can shut out feelings of anxiety during arousal and live for the moment. This is true whether you are on your own or living with a partner.’

Counselling Directory member Beverley Hills said there’s a chemical benefit to orgasms when it comes to stress relief.

She told us: ‘In order to escape our anxieties during insecure times we humans tend to self soothe the psyche and physically utilise whatever methods we can find comfort in.

‘Orgasms reduce stress by triggering endorphins in the brain leading to a positive feeling in the body.’

Meanwhile Jessica Leoni, sex and relationship expert from the dating site, said people could be using sex as a distraction from what is at present a rather downbeat reality.

She said: ‘The news is so unremittingly grim that we need a positive outlet to make us all feel happier. Sex is that outlet for a lot of people.

‘You can see examples of similar behaviour at other times of national crisis. There is a lot of research showing there was heightened promiscuity in Britain during World War Two, for instance, due to an ‘end of the world feeling’ that we could die at any moment.

‘I am not suggesting that young people in particular are imperilled in quite the same way by Covid-19 but nevertheless they are maybe wanting to seize the moment more and enjoy any physical pleasures they can.’

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