The Death of Libido
The pandemic is keeping us at home — but out of the bedroom
During the pandemic, Lola Jean stopped having sex.
That fact alone is not unusual. But given that Jean, on top of being a New York City-based sex educator and mental health professional, also works as a professional domme and had just started a new relationship, it suggests declining libido might be part of a larger trend.
“In general, I would describe myself as a very sexual person with a high sex drive,” she says. “During quarantine, I entered my first relationship, so we’re still in the honeymoon phase and theoretically should be having sex all the time.”
“You can’t be stressed and have great sex. You need to feel at ease, and safe. There are a lot of obvious reasons why people can’t relax right now.”
And yet, Jean says she and her partner were in something of a sex slump; an experience that’s being shared by many as the closures and stay-at-home orders triggered by Covid-19 enter a sixth month. And — like most modern problems — it’s all the pandemic’s fault.
Stress kills the mood
While there’s no hard data on the number of people experiencing a lowered libido during Covid-19, Alexandra Stockwell, MD, a personal relationship and intimacy coach in the Bay Area, says that, at least in her anecdotal experience, “it’s very widespread. Maybe it’s not everyone, but it’s a lot of people.”
The primary reason is simple, says Stockwell: “You can’t be stressed and have great sex. You need to feel at ease, and safe. There are a lot of obvious reasons why people can’t relax right now.”
Besides psychological reasons, there are physiological factors that could explain a drop in sexual appetite during the pandemic. Jordin Wiggins, ND, owner of Canadian women’s wellness clinic Health Over All, points to cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. Produced by the adrenal glands, cortisol keeps you safe by alerting the brain to danger — fueling the fight-or-flight response. But it’s a rapid-response system, poorly designed for the rigors of a six-month quarantine.