Sex & Relationships

What To Do If Coronavirus Anxiety Is Affecting Your Sex Drive, According To Experts

Communication is key.

by Alice Broster
same-sex couple in bed. Love and tenderness. Holding hands

The last few months have taken some adapting to. You may have started working from home or been furloughed, or been required to go out to work under trickier conditions than usual. Then there's keeping up with news on the pandemic and changing lockdown regulations, which can feel like a full time job in itself. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is so crucial and sex is part of that. So here’s how COVID-19 may have affected your sex drive and how to handle it, according to experts.

How COVID-19 Stress & Your Sex Drive Are Linked

Whether you’ve been worried about your health or the health of your family, or just been trying to adapt to life during a pandemic, stress and anxiety can be exhausting and all-consuming. It’s likely that if you’ve been feeling more on edge, your desire to be intimate is lower. “Coronavirus, worrying about our safety, security and that of our loved ones has undoubtedly brought an increase in stress and changes in mood for so many people. Stress can affect your sex drive for many reasons including the fact that when we’re stressed our bodies produce cortisol which lowers our libido,” says dating and relationship expert Sarah Louise Ryan, “We need our libido to feel and be in the mood to arouse our desires.”

Research collected by the Office for National Statistics has found twice as many adults in the UK are reporting symptoms of depression as in 2019. Similarly, a study found that there’s been a stark rise in people suffering from health anxiety since the start of the pandemic. Stress and anxiety is a very physical reaction and loss of libido due to low moods is a double edged sword. Sex releases feel good hormones like oxytocin which can alleviate stress. However, when you’re anxious your body releases cortisol and adrenaline which sends you into fight or flight mode. This can kill your libido, make it much harder to orgasm, and make it difficult to concentrate during sex.

You may not have automatically linked the pandemic to why you’re struggling to be intimate with a partner but Ammanda Major, ​relationship counsellor and sex therapist at Relate Counselling says, “we’re living through COVID-19 and like any other situation, if you’re very worried about something it’s likely you’ll seek a different kind of support from your partner that may not necessarily be sexual. Mental and physical ill health can massively affect your libido and how you feel about yourself.”

How To Boost Your Sex Drive Despite COVID-19 Stress

If you’re feeling low or bad about yourself because of COVID-19 then your worries are perfectly valid. The economic fallout of the pandemic is just beginning to hit and as lockdown eases experts are weighing in on the possibility of a second wave. Understanding that your anxieties and stresses are totally valid and being able to communicate them to your partner could be a good way to regain intimacy. It’d be nice if your partner had the power of telepathy but it’s more than likely that they don’t everything you're feeling.

“We tend to think our partners should just know we don’t feel good because we’ve been quiet but sometimes you have to try and explain how you’re feeling and help them understand,” says Major, “all you have to say is you’re worried about job security or your health and it’s difficult to focus on sex.”

Open communication is a surefire way to help improve things in the bedroom. However, actually getting to the point where you can speak to your partner about the stresses that are stopping you feeling sexy can be a bit of a journey. Ryan suggests you identify exactly what’s worrying you so you can articulate it clearly to your partner. Try to make sure your partner doesn’t feel personally sexually rejected. Explain that you’ve got a lot on your mind and need emotional support. Learn to communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly because the only way you can feel fully supported is by letting someone else in.