If pandemic worries are killing your sex drive, here's how to get it back

At the start of the first lockdown back in March, those who were coupled up and living together may have thought that the extra time together would be a blessing.

Perhaps you thought that those hours not spend commuting or heading out to social events you didn’t want to go to in the first place would leave more time for sex and intimacy.

However, the stress of the pandemic has done pretty much the opposite, with 25% of those in a relationship or married saying their sex life has been negatively affected by it all.

62% of those surveyed said that they had replaced having sex with other activities like watching the news right before bed, while almost half said they’d spent time ‘doomscrolling’ on their phones for updates on the worldwide situation.

It may appear at first glance that the monotony of being indoors for longer (living in pyjamas and having a similar routine each day) might be getting to us. But even masturbation has decreased, suggesting that our sex drives are simply lower in general.

If you’re suffering from pandemic sex fatigue, there are ways to boost your sex drive and take your mind off the horror of world events outside the bedroom.

Dr Katherine Hertlein, couples therapist, sexuality educator, and expert advisor at Blueheart tells Metro.co.uk her top tips for reigniting the passion with your partner.

Improve your lifestyle

Dr Katherine’s advice is to take your sex issues and first deal with the cause – rather than just going straight to sex.

‘Our life events can sometimes cause us to feel stressed or anxious, leaving our minds running even when we’re trying to relax,’ says Katherine.

‘Unfortunately, we cannot always take the stress out of our lives, but you can make lifestyle changes to help with how you deal with them.

‘Some top line advice is to make sure you’re getting the advised 7-8 hours sleep every night, having a healthy balanced diet, and regular exercise even if it’s just an hour of walking per day.

‘These lifestyle changes sound simple but they enable us to put our best selves forward to deal with whatever the day throws at us.’

If you have a clearer head in general, you’ll feel less sluggish and remove yourself from negative thought cycles that might kill your sex drive.

Talk to your partner

‘Despite the predictions of a lockdown baby boom, lots of couples experienced a decrease in desire to have sex due to the negative emotions induced by the pandemic, such as increased anxiety, worry and stress,’ says Katherine.

‘These emotions can often trigger an over-production of cortisol in the body, which can lead to low sex drive. 

‘We often think of sex as something facilitated by our body, but actually, sex begins in the mind. We have to feel safe, relaxed and comfortable. So if the pandemic has impacted your desire to have sex, try to address what issues may have caused this and talk it through with your partner.’

You might think that you’re the only one struggling, but with the catastrophic events over the past year, there’s every chance they’re feeling the same way – and even if they’re not, they can empathise. A problem shared, is a problem halved.

Dr Katherine advises: ‘Talk through how your feelings, some of the proactive actions you can take to incorporate more romantic rituals into your week and try to make the journey towards a more fulfilling sex life together.’  

More time doesn’t equate to quality time

Whether you’re a ‘routine’ sex type of couple who sleep together mornings, evenings, or weekends as a rule, or you tend to have sex after some form of ‘seduction’, those things have both been decimated by the pandemic.

‘Before the pandemic, you may have enjoyed bonding with your partner by going out to dinner, enjoying a weekend getaway, or having a few drinks at the pub after work. This bonding time sets the foundations for sex’ says Dr Katherine.

‘You also may have had the same bedtime routine, which was associated with sex, and perhaps now are experiencing disturbances sleeping, thus affecting your routine. Unspoken shared moments which both of you, either consciously or unconsciously, are aware might lead to sex.’

Look at the situations that normally led to sex before the pandemic, and try to find a way to incorporate something similar into the ‘new normal’.

Dr Katherine says: ‘Consider having an official date night once a week even if you’re at home. You can dress up, cook a romantic meal and enjoy the time bonding. It may feel out of the ordinary to dress up for a home dinner date, but it can help you feel closer to your partner and set the right tone so that if you feel like it, sex can follow.

‘Likewise, carve out time that involves spending time with your other half when there are no screens involved. Sitting together to simply talk can mean you truly focus on the other person without distraction. This creates more opportunity to read their body language, connect, and create the right conditions for sex.’

Be patient with yourself

Taking the pressure off of sex makes it more natural for sex to happen at all, and also should help the experience feel better when the time does come.

‘Try to move away from making sex a goal-oriented experience. It’s about taking your time, enjoying each other and finding intimacy and connection,’ says Dr Katherine.

‘Not only will this take the pressure off of yourself and your partner, but it’s also a chance to learn what you find sensual. Think of it as a blank slate and a chance to explore what you enjoy without the time pressure or end goal.’

Studies show that we aren’t having as much sex as we think other couples are. Rather than comparing your sex life to numbers and frequency, do your best to appreciate the times you do have with your partner.

Avoid any distractions

Doomscrolling and watching the endless updates might be somewhat addictive, but it’s not helping your mental state – and certainly not your sex drive.

Dr Katherine says: ;Once you’re in the mood to have sex, clear the room of any distractions. Turn the TV off and put your phone on silent, so you don’t become startled and distracted. You want to feel fully relaxed before you start your session.’

A press conference with Boris and Chris Whitty might give you information on lockdown 2.0, but it’s not what you want to see or hear when you’re trying to be intimate.

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