Has sexual desire been killed by the pandemic?

March 2020,

Quebec officially goes on alert. The start of a global pandemic that plunges us into a colorful period of uncertainty and pushes us to adapt to a new lifestyle of confinement. The perfect scenario for spending time as a couple. Many thought that there would be a “baby boom” 9 months later or just a burst of sex drive in relationships. But what really happened? The various health rules, isolation and above all, stress took over the sexual desire of many couples.

With the health rules that encouraged us to reduce our contacts, single people and partners who do not live under the same roof have had to find solutions to maintain their relationships and above all, to avoid any risk of contamination. Indeed, public health suggested opting for masturbation or wearing a mask during sexual encounters with partners, when these activities take place outside their social bubble. However, semen or vaginal fluids have been shown to have an extremely low risk for the spread of the virus. We talk more about contact with the mouth, so partners were advised not to kiss each other during sex. This change in sexuality has sparked a craze for sex toys, so several companies in the industry have seen their sales increase. While some rediscovered the pleasures of solo sex, others saw the sexual desire within their union slowly fading away.


The confined single

When you’re single, you protect yourself first and foremost against STIs (sexually transmitted infections), but now it’s Covid-19 that you worry about the most. Dating on websites or mobile apps is very popular, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. However, after a while, it can be difficult to evolve in the relationship with the person by only maintaining virtual contacts. The need to physically meet the person is therefore felt, but you still have to stay two meters away, so the physical connection is not really possible. So, many single people take the risk of getting closer, for the need of physical proximity with others. This need is intensely felt and becomes even more urgent when it is noticed that the confinement continues to expand. You should know that sexual health is just as important as physical and mental health, so it is normal that some singles choose to bypass the rules of social distancing to compensate for their lack of closeness.


Anxiety and sexual desire, a bad mix?

The fear of contracting the virus or infecting others is now part of people’s daily lives. This can lead to psychological consequences, such as anxiety, depression, etc. But what is the connection with one’s sex life? First of all, anxiety activates the sympathetic system, which can be compared to the expression “fight or flight” which puts our body on alert. On the other hand, sexual arousal needs to activate the parasympathetic system, which puts our bodies in a state of relaxation. So, we understand that the two systems are totally opposite and that anxiety can affect the different stages of the sexual response. In order to reach an orgasm, you need to be in a state of peace of mind so that the body can let itself go completely. In short, taking care of your mental health is also taking care of your sexual health. If the brain isn’t there, neither is the body!


What about couples?

You have to miss your partner in order to find each other. Yes, you read that right. Being too often with your partner can decrease sexual desire. It is called “erotizing the distance” When you leave in the morning, the excitement tends to build up during the day when thinking about your partner. Therefore, when you come home at night the sexual desire is more likely to kick in. However, in confinement and working from home, this waiting to find the other is put on hold, because we spend 100% of our time or so, with our partner. This lack of excitement to find the other can lead to tension, conflict and boredom in the relationship. The difficulty of having new experiences and topics of conversation can therefore be limited and by the same fact, weigh heavily on some couples. Also, being together all the time can make us realize some things that we previously missed. Many couples will notice that they get on each other’s nerves, that they have little in common, or that flaws in their partner that once didn’t bother them can become overwhelming. All these reasons have an impact on sexual desire in a relationship.


How to get out of it?

It is important to try to keep in touch with our family and friends, whether through online or in-person conversations, but while following the health rules applicable to your area. The best advice is to continue to feed the bubble of pleasure in your relationship. Whether it is with small gestures, the introduction of sex toys in the bedroom or simply taking a romantic moment. Even if we are confined, we must know how to distinguish between work and life as a couple. Fluctuations in sexual desire are completely normal, whether during confinement or not. You just have to question your interest in sexuality. Is the desire gone? Has it decreased? If the answer is yes, it is up to you to see if it suits your relationship and what you can do together to bring back the sexual desire, if that’s your goal. Each couple experiences confinement in a different way, but to get through this particularly gloomy time, we must continue to communicate our desires and needs to our partner.


Finally, we notice a nice difference between singles and couples. On the one hand, singles need physical connection while on the other hand, couples need to distance themselves to find the sexual desire again, because they are often with each other. In both cases, confinement does not make everyone happy and even if it is a difficult period to go through, it is important to do everything in your power to keep yourself healthy, whether it is physically, mentally or sexually.

A healthy mind in a healthy body!



étudiante sexologie

Author for our sexcoupletherapy blog



Audrey Labelle

Studying in a Bachelor of Sexology