To say that the coronavirus pandemic has been stressful feels like the understatement of 2020. For some people, stress makes it feel next to impossible to get in the mood for sex. On the other hand, if you have a higher sex drive during quarantine, experts say that's totally legit, too — and there are several reasons why your horniness may be shifting into high gear.
If you’re single, you may be feeling frustrated that you have fewer outlets for your sexual impulses during quarantine, since you haven’t been able to engage in physical touch with others. Blame it on the loneliness and touch deprivation you feel in quarantine combined with your biological need for sexual release.
Or if you’re in a relationship, you may be in the throes of a “honeymoon phase” as you adjust to an increase in quality time. This can be especially true if you never lived together pre-quarantine, or if you and your partner have been proactive about trying new experiences together.
"There's a certain newness — and excitement,” explains Rebecca Torosian, an intimacy behavioral therapist. “Everything is fresh, which can definitely peak your libido. You may feel more creative and open when it comes to your sexuality because you're discovering a lot about the other person."
Even if you’ve been with your partner for a long time, the conditions of quarantine may be allowing you to see a different dimension to their personality, which is exciting on its own. For example, while privy to overhearing their work Zoom meetings, you might witness a more assertive side of them. Or, you may observe a passionate side of them when they get fired up about the latest developments in the news, or a nurturing side of them when they're soothing your sudden anxiety around what's happening.
“Seeing our partner in a new way for an extended period of time can bring new levels of arousal,” explains Dr. Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist. “It may even spark spontaneous fantasizing.”
If you and your SO were super busy before quarantine, and that had been taking a toll on your sex life, you may find the new circumstances to be liberating, too.
“The time spent together coupled with the understanding that even if both are busy, neither is ‘leaving’ can release some of the time pressure that many couples feel when it comes to intimacy and arousal,” adds Dr. Klapow. “For some couples working and living together and being ‘trapped’ under one roof may be the ultimate sexual fantasy.”
It's not only understandable if you're feeling extra randy, but it's actually pretty common — and there are countless tweets to prove it.
It’s also worth noting that sex is a phenomenal stress reliever. According to research published in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior, getting it on reduces the levels of hormones associated with stress (like cortisol and adrenaline). Meanwhile, it also triggers the release of endorphins and other hormones that boost your mood and basically make you feel like a gajillion bucks. If you’re able to reach orgasm, that prompts a flood of serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel happy and relaxed. BTW, these benefits aren’t just limited to partnered sex: A 2005 study published in the journal Biological Psychology found that all kinds of sexual activity — even masturbation — prevents your blood pressure from increasing during stressful events.
Seeing as the coronavirus pandemic has been massively stressful, and sex is such a powerful antidote to stress, it makes sense why your interest in getting off may have spiked recently. Torosian says that it’s particularly common for people to masturbate more during stressful times, as solo seshes come with less pressure to perform (so you can just focus on your own pleasure).
"Masturbation floods your body with good feelings — you're literally having a muscular tension release,” she explains.
Bottom line? Sex not only makes you feel good physically and mentally, but it also makes you feel more in tune to your own body and your partner's — and that kind of connection is much needed under such isolating circumstances. So, provided you're staying safe, there's no need to fight those urges. In uncertain times like these, it totally makes sense that you might cling to the calming effect of an orgasm — which IMO, could be considered an effective act of self-care.
Rebecca Torosian, intimacy behavioral therapist
Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist
Liu, H., Waite, L. J., Shen, S., & Wang, D. H. (2016). Is Sex Good for Your Health? A National Study on Partnered Sexuality and Cardiovascular Risk among Older Men and Women. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 57(3), 276-296. doi:10.1177/0022146516661597
Brody, S. (2006). Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile–vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity. Biological Psychology, 71(2), 214-222. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2005.03.005