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Sex during the coronavirus pandemic: erotic recess or turn-off?

Sex during the coronavirus pandemic: erotic recess or turn-off?

Sex during the coronavirus pandemic: erotic recess or turn-off?

Has coronavirus stress been affecting your sexual relationships? Sex therapist, couples therapist and psychologist Jeanine Souren, understands that staying at home together is not always an immediate turn-on. Here she shares some answers to questions like: “how to get my sex drive back during home confinement?”

How being stuck at home during the coronavirus can both reduce desire and ignite lust

As a sex therapist, I am seeing an (online) surge of people (both singles and couples) reaching out for sexual behavioural issues during this coronavirus time. One of my doctor friends is reporting an increase in requests for “little blue pills,” while some of my clients are asking me how to get their sex-spark back, spending so much time together.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions since the COVID - 19 experience began. Perhaps the answers may help you deal with sex-related relationship issues during this new situation.

I don’t feel like having sex with my partner at all. I am in a different head-space. How do I get my sex drive back?

By realising you are in a different headspace, you are aware that what happens in your head has a huge influence on your body’s responses or sensors. If you spend too much time in your head focussing on your thoughts, there is less room for sensations, so it becomes more difficult to feel any sexy sparks.

Creative solution #1: Think about it

Thinking about sex, even if it is “I don’t feel like it”, helps bring your attention to the topic. Stay with that. The next step can be, to gently, yet purposely, distance yourself from your thoughts and to guide your attention to your sensations. Start turning the spark on in you; go to that internal space where you store your sexual desires and fantasies. Plan it, it won’t happen spontaneously. Focus on what you hear, what you feel when you touch your skin, what you smell and how you feel in your body. Experience your erotic self.

This is not meant to make you feel better, but to make you feel better. To make you get in touch with feeling. Show up, and from that place, see if you can connect with your partner and try having sex as if it’s your last time. As Ester Perel explains, “Sex isn’t something you do, it’s a place you go, a space you enter inside yourself or with another.”

Creative solution #2: Take it slow

You could try experimenting with slow sex. Communicate with your partner, without words. Speak with your body, learn its language. Learn your partner’s language by starting anew, as if you both are curious novelists, who are creative, unpredictable and even mysterious. Then, see if you can enjoy sex in a way you did before you relied on routines.

*Note; trying not to be an open book about everything (think of not closing the bathroom door or not showering daily, or wearing your sweatpants at home all the time) can be helpful to keep the passion alive. Nobody wants to find out that their partner’s facial expression on the toilet is similar to their orgasm face. Believe me, this is NOT sexy.

My partner wants us to wear masks during sex; for protection. Is that necessary?

Perhaps your partner is careful or perhaps they were inspired by the current wave of coronavirus-porn, featuring people wearing N95 respiratory face masks, and sometimes full-on Hazmat suits. The N95 respirators can prevent transmission, only if they maintain a tight seal with your faces; which - during sexual activity - asks for pretty much "frozen" positions. Standard surgical masks won’t prevent transmission during sex and close proximity because the mask is likely to not remain in place.

Creative solution: See above

For the creative solution for this issue, see the aforementioned creative solutions. 

Is there an increased chance of getting the coronavirus when having anal sex?

There were some rumours that the coronavirus is transferable via poop. There is no proof that by having anal sex, you are at a greater risk than via penis-vagina sex. The coronavirus has been recognised in poop, but as of now, it’s unclear if this is the living or the dead virus (source: soaids.nl). People are advised to use one toilet per person and to clean this daily. However, as long as it’s not yet clear, the NYCDOH’s says “rimming (mouth to anus) might spread COVID-19. Virus in faeces may enter your mouth.”

Creative solution: Don’t involve poop

If you do engage in anal sex, make sure you wear a condom and rubber gloves. Healthier alternatives are sexting, chat rooms or solo-sex. Always wash up before and after sex, including cleaning all sex-toys, keyboards or touch screens.

With the free porn upgrades right now, and more time on my hands (no pun intended), I am masturbating daily. Will this affect my sexual desire for my partner?

Since the corona outbreak, Pornhub has reported a jump in viewership. Probably because there is more time and opportunity now that most of us are confined to home. Most of the research is lacking on the influence of porn on sexual desire, underscoring the need for extensive investigation using methods that have participants remove the variable of internet porn.

As a sex therapist, my view is that watching porn is neither good nor bad, it’s different than having sex with your partner. It’s almost comparing apples and pears. How real is the sex in porn, after all?

Creative solution: Watch together 

My suggestion would be that if you are drawn more to watching porn, see you if you can entice your partner to watch with you. Having a discussion about content choice beforehand is advised. You may be surprised and see something you would like to try yourself.

If your partner is not interested; try to talk about it and come up with other ways to spark eroticism. There are erotic or sexy stories online to read or listen to which are called aural erotica. Listening to explicit content can be a huge turn-on for couples and an intimate experience too.

Everyone is affected

In conclusion, I want to acknowledge that the current situation is a challenge for us all, including those in relationships. Everyone is affected. Relationships are important in these times, perhaps even more so, as our awareness on what matters most is no longer peripheral. If you find that your relationship is starting to suffer, don’t forget that you can always reach out to a couples therapist, many offer video therapy sessions.

Jeanine Souren

Author

Jeanine Souren

I am a psychotherapist, family and couples therapist and a sexologist. I work with expats online and in my private practice.

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