Low libido and Coronavirus | Is your sex drive affected?
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting self-quarantine have put us all under new kinds of stress. Staying at home may sound like a panacea. Yet it deprives us of our regular day-to-day contacts and sources of entertainment. Most of us are spending an unprecedented length of time with our families. Some are also facing uncertainty about their source of income. Feeling like sex, anyone? Are you too worried about your sexual health during COVID-19?
Is it normal to have a lower libido during self-quarantine? Am I the only one worrying about my sexual health during COVID-19?
‘Aliki, I know it is only 22:00, but I am feeling utterly exhausted. I think I would like to go to bed, read a bit and then just sleep.’
I told this to the love of my life with some trepidation. I didn’t want to let her down. But most of all, I am not used to this. I usually look forward to the moment when I feel the warmth of her nakedness against me. Was it the beginning of the end of our sex life? Many of our readers surely feel the same, judging from questions we have received:
- Is it ok if I don’t feel like having sex during self-quarantine?
How often is it normal to have sex under lockdown?
- Should I always tell my partner when I don’t feel like having sex?
‘It is ok, baby,’ came the answer ‘I am not feeling so groovy either.’
I felt appeased. But the question hovered on my mind: is it ok to declare that I am not up for sex?
The short answer
The short answer is yes. If you are in a long term relationship, then you know that external factors have a significant effect on your sexual appetite. We are living in a unique situation -at least in our lifetime- and it is bound to influence our energy levels and our moods. You’re not the only one with problems with your sexual health during COVID-19.
For the first few days of the lockdown, Aliki and I were thrilled to be spending more time together. Then, slowly but inexorably, the drag of daily life under confinement started taking its toll. Children require attention and amusement; housework needs to be done; the family has to be fed. Even our placid cat became restless.
Things that under normal circumstances flowed seamlessly, like buying foodstuff, now required planning, pre-ordering and a perpetual fight on the internet to find a delivery slot. And this new lifestyle came without a manual. We’re all ambling blindly.
A couple of weeks down the line, I am noticing small but clear changes: I am staying longer in my PJ’s, my beard has a life of its own and, more importantly, I am becoming irritable. Pretty much the same goes for Aliki – except for the beard of course!
Now don’t get me wrong. We are very attentive to our physical and mental health. We do some sports daily; we go out at least once per day and we try to adjust our food intake to match our reduced activity. But complacency and fatigue are devious. They creep on you unawares.
“The possibility to be frank without being judged is one of the most valuable gifts your partner can give you.”
The long answer
Frankness is a rare commodity. The possibility to be frank without being judged is one of the most valuable gifts your partner can give you.
Nowhere is this truer than in our sexual interactions. Plucking the courage to tell your loved one that your libido is low and receiving acceptance without judgement is a tangible example of true love. It is proof that your sexual space as a couple works.
Sometimes it is easier to give in and make love to keep up appearances than to say that you are not up to it. Like everything else, however, the trick is in finding a balance.
Should I always tell when I don’t feel like having sex? Should I worry about my sexual health during COVID-19 and self-isolation?
Not feeling like having sex can be the result of many things: hormones, moods, stress, tiredness, disease. They cannot all be treated in the same way. Here, I choose to focus on our current reality: the effect of self-quarantine on your sex life.
It is normal to feel lethargic after a few weeks of self-quarantine. Most likely you are moving less, receiving reduced sunlight and doing fewer exciting things. Moreover, your circadian rhythm slips. This saps your energy.
If you reckon that these are the reasons why you don’t feel like having sex, then I suggest that you make an effort. Giving in to that lack of motivation is likely to make you even more sluggish.
In this regard, you can compare sex as sports. When you have stopped jogging for some time, those first steps seem herculean. Once you get going, though, it becomes more manageable and, by the end of the run, your endorphins have put you on a high.
It is not only adults who suffer from this. During self-quarantine, we have noticed that our children, although nervous and edgy from lack of movement, are reluctant to go out for a walk. We have to push and brave a series of long faces to get them out. Coming back home, though, all of them wear happy, flushed faces. You’re not the only ones who change and you don’t need to worry about your sexual health during COVID-19.
6 things to do if sex feels like an effort during self-isolation.
“Sex gives you energy,” Marie told me once after a tantra massage. We were talking specifically about sex and tiredness.
I agree wholeheartedly. I find it immensely sexy how Aliki manages to get me into the mood with morning sex while I am still in torpor. And the few evenings when I have hesitated but then decided for sex, have always left me in a better state. Truth be told, I can hardly ever resist Aliki!
However, if you experience sexual lethargy repeatedly while under self-quarantine, there are a few things that you can do:
1. Change the time when you have sex.
After a whole day at home, it is very tempting to slump in front of a TV series until you pass out. Try having sex at other times. Perhaps as soon as you wake up in the morning? In the afternoon, while the children are having some quiet time or siesta? Or while having a shower together?
Yesterday Aliki and I had sex on the couch before we started watching TV. After that, the rest of the evening was simply electric.
2. Make a list of sexy things that you can do together
If you can’t beat them join them, right? The rhythm has changed. There’s nothing you can do about that. So adapt to the rhythm!
Plan the quality time that you spend with your partner and make a list of sexy things to do together. You can also check out our 5 sexy things to do under lockdown for inspiration.
3. Perk up
It is not evident to dress up and maintain yourself when you are not meeting anyone outside your home. But keep in mind that your partner is the only person in the world you should impress.
This might feel counterintuitive, but it is true. Your partner is the one who sees you naked day in day out, the one who takes all the shit you go through and who supports you when you are feeling anything but sexy.
So make sure to pay it back: present the best side of yourself whenever you can. And yes, that includes makeup, sexy underwear, a good shave and some perfume. Even if you are staying inside!
Sex is only one aspect of your relationship and coitus is most definitely only a small part of your sexual relationship.
4. Do some sports
Sports and sex have one thing in common: they both release endorphins. These neurochemicals react with your opioid receptors, which is why their effect is sometimes likened to that of morphine. Only your body produces them naturally when you exercise or make love.
As a result, you feel less pain all over your body and this puts you on a natural high. All for free and organically! And the more you exercise, the more you would feel ready to move and have sex.
Extreme amounts of sustained sport can admittedly deplete you of the energy reserve you need to have sex and might also make you addicted to the ‘Runner’s High’. But, if you are an ordinary mortal like me, the chances of that happening are slim.
5. Check what you are eating
Don’t worry, I will not make a list of delicious and mouth-watering food items you should avoid. My message here is simply that this might be a moment to take stock of your eating habits. Don’t only count the number of calories. Look also at the constituents of your intake.
Our hormones are influenced by what we eat and our sex drive is, partially at least, the result of our hormones. Are you having enough of the necessary vitamins? Are you overindulging in some foods that negatively affect your sex-drive hormones?
If in doubt, why not use this moment of isolation to reach out to a professional nutritionist?
6. Accept the moments when you don’t feel like it
You might do all of the above and still find yourself in moments when all you want to do is curl up with a good book until you dose off. There is only one explanation for this: you are a human being.
Tiredness is one of our states. Accept it, and use it as a moment to focus on other things with your partner. After all, sex is only one aspect of your relationship and coitus is most definitely only a small part of your sexual relationship. There are other things to try out.
Being honest about your libido
So, I guess the rule of thumb should be that it is ok to tell your partner that you don’t feel like having sex under self-quarantine, as long as you are making an effort not fall into lethargy.
Being honest about your libido is a sign of deep trust between you and your partner. A mature sexual space should be able to take it.
Frankness, however, is not a blank cheque to slip into laziness. You should always do your best and keep investing in your sexual relationship.
Just like other aspects of your relationship would not work if you didn’t pull your weight (think of parenthood) the same applies to your sexual life. If you stop seeking to improve it, it will dissipate.
One final word of caution.
Keep in mind that in this post we are talking only of a temporary dip in your sexual appetite. And one linked with self-isolation. If you have reasons to believe that your state is due to other reasons, we suggest that you consult a medical expert.
Tell us about your experience!
Have you been experiencing sexual sluggishness during self-quarantine? Did we help you understand your sexual health during COVID-19? We are eager to learn from our readers’ experiences. Email us or leave a comment below!