If Covid-19 has left you home and lacking libido, you’re not alone. The pandemic has caused collective stress on everyone, and many folks have noticed this stress has impacted their sex drive.
Stress isn’t just something you feel; it’s a physiological response. When activated, stress can cause the body to release the hormones cortisol and epinephrine, which lead to low sex drive. The psychological effects of lockdown can also lead to a more chaotic mental state and cause lower libido. And, chances are, if you are in lockdown with a partner, the pandemic has most likely caused relational stress. At the very minimum, not having breaks from your partner can create monotony in your routine and make the idea of sex seem less exciting.
How Stress Causes Low Libido
Various factors can impact sex drive like medications, pregnancy, unemployment, bad days at work, or relationship issues. If the cause of decreased sex drive is from pain or medication, consult with your doctor before trying other techniques.
Unfortunately, low sex drive can cause stress levels to heighten, making sex seem even farther in the distance. Stress impacts everything from libido all the way to immune function and digestion. The pandemic adds another layer of this stress, from worrying about job safety to health concerns.
If you’ve noticed a change in your sex drive due to stress, know that you’re not alone. And, even if your libido is completely gone, there is hope for its return! What’s important is to be gentle with yourself and not create pressure to perform a certain way. If you’re stressed, there are ways to increase sex drive.
Spontaneous and Responsive Desire
Did you know that there are different types of desire, and they can determine how and when you feel arousal, or if you typically initiate sex? It may be helpful to consider your desire type to help better gauge what’s beneficial to increase your sex drive.
Let’s differentiate the desire types. Spontaneous desire is more instantaneous. It’s sort of like that out of the blue feeling of “I want sex now.” Spontaneous desire could mean walking down the street, seeing a cutie, and immediately feeling turned on.
Responsive means, well, you respond to certain stimuli like being seduced or touched. Folks with this desire type most likely require some physical stimulation to get in the mood.
Decreased spontaneous desire doesn’t necessarily mean no sex drive; it just means lack of spontaneous desire. Both types can do certain things to warm up to sex.
Consider your desire type, and what things typically get you heated up before sex, whether that’s things like touch, a steamy movie, or audio porn.
You might also think about what prohibits you from feeling turned on. Seek to create a space away from these factors. For example, if work stresses you out, you probably aren’t going to be ready for sex right at 5 pm. Try creating a few hours in your schedule to decompress before putting sex on the table.
Make Time for Self Care
If stress is the culprit for a decreased sex drive, it makes sense to treat the stress before sex! Outlets like exercise, massage, social time with friends, reading, or soaking in a hot bath can be great forms of self-care. Meditation is another fantastic way to decrease stress and can even increase your sex drive
If you’ve been in lockdown with your partner, chances are you don’t get much space from them. Try and schedule time apart, even if it’s going for a 30-minute walk. Time apart can create more excitement in the relationship and provide another form of self-care.
Pleasure Not Pressure
Sex can help reduce stress, but you need to be in a well enough mental state to reap the benefits. And, pressure to have sex can increase stress! A helpful tip here that may seem counterintuitive at first is to take away the pressure to have sex. This doesn’t mean removing the hope or want for more sex; it means to schedule time to experiment with warming up techniques, regardless of whether the outcome leads to sex.
If you have a partner, schedule time to get off your devices and lay together. Focus on your breathing and any sensations your body may feel. You could choose to touch or snuggle. This practice can lead to sex, but it’s more about scheduling time to reconnect and be intimate together, without the added pressure of scheduling time for sex. You can also do this practice alone by unplugging from technology in the same way, mindfully observing your body and its sensations, and choosing whether or not to add self-touch.
What’s wrong with scheduling time for sex? Nothing, if that works for you. But for a vast majority of people with low sex drive, this can feel like an immense pressure to perform or lead to sex before that person is even in the mood. Sex is about pleasure, not pressure.
Shake it Up
Changing your sexual routine to allow for more time to warm up and spark the fire might be helpful, especially if you or your partner have a response desire type.
If monotony in routine is the cause of the drop in your sex drive, try shaking things up in the bedroom to foster excitement. Try something you’ve always wanted to play with, like bringing a sex toy into the bedroom, experimenting with roleplay, using lube, or trying a new position. As always, make sure you experiment with new sexual practices consensually and with adequate time for foreplay.
Don’t Expect Instant Changes
Remember, sex is about pleasure, not pressure. Give yourself time to practice new habits like self-care or being intimate with yourself or your partner. Work on coping with stress to increase sex drive.
Low sex drive can cause feelings of shame and isolation. In reality, many folks have suffered from low sex drive at one point or another in their lives. Low sex drive is a common experience for many people under stress, and there are solutions to increase it!