By Aoife Drury
Our libido fluctuates over the course of our lives, depending on hormones, social stressors, relationships and psychological factors. Peaks and troughs in desire are so normal but right now, due to COVID19, that dip may feel amplified. Over the last few weeks, there have been a mammoth number of articles, tweets, posts and conversations around a possibility of a baby boom. Throughout history the consequence of a baby boom post-disaster has only ever occurred following World War II, this has been speculated to have been due to the increased disposable income, changes in the law and capacity to have second children, amongst other reasons. Not the increased sex-drive of individuals.
I know that many people are really struggling with anxiety and the idea of sex/masturbation may be overwhelming. Yes, of course we can enjoy this time and get in touch with our sexual-self and with our partner but it’s important to recognise that this may not be how everyone is feeling. We are amid a pandemic; the fear of the unknown, the uncertainty; can create anxiety and stress. These can greatly impede on our desire for sex. Posts surrounding a baby boom can create feelings of inadequacy.
Sex is just so much more complex than people being locked up together and feeling horny. Life, fear around job loss-or job loss itself, fear of becoming unwell, childcare pressure and financial issues are real life challenges in full force at the moment. The likelihood of sex happening, particularly spontaneously currently is far less likely.
Anxious feelings can impede on your sex drive in several ways. Those overwhelming feelings we get when anxiety ramps up, empty those sexy thoughts out of our brains, inhibiting from being in the mood. There are also physiological effects of anxiety and worry, escalating the production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that make you feel on edge. This means the body can't physically unwind and basking in sexual sensations alongside climaxing tends to be a lot more difficult.
Another point to raise is that most people who are stuck at home tend to be with their current partners. Despite the physical proximity, this doesn’t necessarily translate to better connection. Many of us, when we feel overwhelmed struggle to communicate effectively, as a result arguments and disagreements may flourish at a time like this. Leading us instead to pull away from each other rather than towards.
It's vital to talk about how you're feeling and what you experience. Having an open conversation surrounding sex and managing your expectations is a good start. Attempt to come at this at an angle of teamwork and helping each other through the difficult time, ensuring that neither of you are mind reading. Facilitating the ability to turn towards and not against each other. Another useful tip is to try notice what impedes on desire for you and what aids it. We call these our accelerators and breaks. It may allow you to create some intimacy for each other and better connect. Finally try to empathise and really hear what your partner is saying and how they are feeling. Above everything else, do not pressure your partner into sexual activity if they are not feeling up to it.
It’s okay not to feel desire, it’s okay not to want to have sex. This is a time of crisis, most of us are in a state of fear. Focusing on your communication, connection and intimacy can help ease the anxiety and get you feeling more together. Focus on your mental health, mindfulness, self-care, whatever makes you feel better. If you can only manage a hug right now, then you can only manage a hug. You do you and that's all that matters.