Two years on, from the COVID-19 global pandemic, and so much of our lives have changed. Even the things that haven’t changed are charged—charged with feelings of danger, or the feeling that the veneer of ‘normal’ has been cracked (what even was normal, anyway?). As much as we pretend otherwise, things are definitely not the same.
The way we work has changed, not to mention the way we school our youth and meet up with friends. And yes, these are just three of many, many ways that our lives have changed, but for all of the outward ways that things have been in flux since early 2020, how have you changed? Of course, you can’t answer that (this is just a blog post, after all), but one way many people have changed—and perhaps why you’re reading this right now—is a distinct loss of libido, likely brought on by the ongoing pandemic.
Writing this in August of 2022, COVID-19 is likely only one of the things you’re currently worried about—what with an impending climate doomsday scenario, ongoing global conflicts, and spiraling inflation, you’d be crazy not to be worried, right? Who is thinking about pleasure when it seems like the whole planet is on fire?
Here’s why you’re likely dealing with decreased libido, and some reasons why it can and will come back someday.
It’s stress (obviously).
Modern life, huh? What with the dual pressures of career and personal fulfillment, student debt, an nigh-on-unaffordable housing market and the inability to ever really be unreachable,
It should come as no surprise that stress and sex do not make good bedfellows. Especially prolonged stress, which we’ve all been experiencing since early 2020 when this whole pandemic thing began. During times of stress, your body produces more cortisol (the “stress hormone”) that floods your body and brain with glucose. Cortisol gets produced in large amounts during times of “fight or flight,” as it can stimulate tissue repair in the event of an injury suffered during a tense or fearful moment. However, during times of prolonged stress, our bodies keep secreting cortisol into our systems, which interacts poorly with our libidinal systems.
Cortisol suppresses the amount of testosterone in both men and women during stressful times, which, during an extended period of upheaval and stress–like a global pandemic, say–will decreases their libido and desire for sex.
It’s totally understandable.
During a period of time in which the world is going through an unprecedented (at least in our lifetimes) rupture or change, it is totally normal to not be interested in having sex. There may even be evolutionary reasons for this. Think about it: during cataclysmic events, what would be the purpose of mating (i.e., having sex to make a baby) when you should be focused on immediate survival instead?
It comes back, usually faster than when it left!
As you’ve grappled with the stresses of surviving a pandemic, your libido probably dropped off pretty early. However, once things begin to even out and our bodies begin acclimating to a state of normalcy—you may remember the ‘hot vaxx summer’ of 2021’ when people were going feral at the first sight of light at the end of the tunnel—it is very likely that your libido will come roaring back as cortisol production levels off.
However, there are even more reasons why your libido may be tanking thanks to the ongoing pandemic, such as:
Seeing your partner all. the. time.
After lockdowns and general avoidance of the illness that spread across the planet, no doubt your behaviors around leaving the house (such as how often and why) have adjusted. Living with a partner during this time, you might have noticed that you are seeing them more than any two adults should be seeing each other.
An endless amount of time spent together totally rips away whatever excitement you had of seeing them at the end of the day of work, for instance. Throw in chores, kids, and working from home, and there’s likely no time for any sex, meaning that you only see your partner in the context of the endless grind of day-to-day living.
When you’re able—i.e., as things get more ‘normal’—you and your partner need to leave the context of the daily grind. Make time to get out of the house together (as much as you’re comfortable doing, of course) in order to see them as the person you both were before you shared the pandemic’s signature living space/office/gym that all of our homes became. Take a hike, rent a campsite, take that salsa class you’ve always wanted to take together: the bottom line is to get out and away from the pandemic context. Maybe even consider changing out of your sweatpants for the occasion!
Drinking or smoking more to cope.
As people grappled with the precarity of living through a global pandemic, they drank more alcohol than before as a way to cope. It was the same with smoking marijuana, as legal cannabis sales skyrocketed when people had little else to do, and too much on their minds.
Even in the best of times, drinking and smoking more are poor ways to cope with things like uncertainty or loss. And while smoking weed can enhance sex for some people, and alcohol increases the desire, if not the ability, to have sex, when they mix with stress and libido it can be a killer combo. However, it goes beyond pleasure at a certain point. If you feel that your substance use has gotten out of hand and is getting in the way of your life, reach out to a professional and get the help you need.
What other ways have the last two years impacted your life? Because so much of what happens to us affects how we interact (sexually and otherwise) with those around us, there are a litany of external factors. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that change is a constant in nature–meaning things can always change for the better.