How our sex life is affected by covid-19 social distancing


A study by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University found that participants “who made new additions to sex life were three times more likely to report sex life improvement than those who did not explore new activities,” writes Agnieszka Peczkowska PhD, a clinical psychologist and sexologist. Photo: S Therapy 

Guest contribution: Social restrictions in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic have upended many people’s sex lives, but those willing adapt have been happiest, explains Agnieszka Peczkowska of S Therapy.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our daily habits, but especially has put a strain on our social and sex lives. As sexual health and interpersonal relationships are basic foundations for our overall health and wellbeing, the impact of social distancing should be carefully evaluated.

Sexual wellbeing and sexual behaviours during pandemic

A study on sex and relationships in the time of covid-19 was conducted between 21 March and 14 April 14--a period of widespread restrictions on movement and social contact--on a sample of 1,559 adults. The paper, published in the academic journal Leisure Sciences, found that almost half of participants expressed a decrease in their sex life quality. Between 41% and 61% of participants reported not having engaged in mutual masturbation, oral sex and vaginal intercourse since the beginning of pandemic outbreak. Furthermore, engaging in sexual behaviours with a partner or solo was shown to be less frequent than in the previous year. It seems that factors like limited living space, home schooling and home office may play a relevant role in managing sexual and intimate relationships stress.

Sex during covid-19. Author provided
Graphic: Author provided

New additions to sex life

Although social distancing restrictions have left its mark on people’s sex life, it has shown the inventive potential of human to adjust to changes and challenging period in people’s lives. It was shown that 20% of participants were trying at least one new addition since the pandemic outbreak.

New additions to sex life. Author provided
Graphic: Author provided

Interestingly, those who were younger, had lower socio-economic status and/or were living alone expressed trying more new activities, regardless of their gender. Living alone has enhanced the need to explore alternative ways of fulfilling sexual needs. In this group, the most common new additions were reported the ones including virtual and digital sex activities, which would explain the need to overcome the social distancing burdens.

It was observed that those who made new additions to sex life were three times more likely to report sex life improvement than those who did not explore new activities. It seems that finding fresh and novel practices to satisfy sexual desires may be one of the forms of a successful coping strategy in the light of the challenging times. It is noteworthy that these were the partnered activities that were linked with the sex life improvements, and not the technology-based ones. Even though technology development gives us constantly developing and more creative ways of sexual activities, it does not substitute for in-person relations.

Adapting to changes

Corona times has put to the test our ability to persevere and stay resilient despite social distancing and the feeling of social isolation. As human beings we have the ability to recover from and adjust to challenging periods in our lives--the year 2020 challenged our sex lives and our relationships but also gave us opportunity to explore new sexual and intimate grounds. Let yourself embrace the new year while trusting your unique sexual potential.

Dr. Agnieszka Peczkowska is a qualified clinical psychologist and sexologist. She founded S Therapy to provide reliable and straightforward knowledge on sexuality and sexual health in a supportive atmosphere and delivered in an accessible way. You can find her on LinkedinFacebook and Instagram.

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