This article was scientifically fact-checked by Human Sexuality expert Dr. Laurie Mintz.
We’re in an age of categories. Baby boomers. Millennials. Generation Y. Gen Z. Can we expect a surge of babies in nine months’ time, as a result of the sex* we imagine is happening right now, with all of us self-isolating in the shadow of the coronavirus?
That’s the way we all expect it to be, right? We tend to imagine that everyone is having more sex than ever, and certainly more than ourselves, because there’s not much else to do behind locked quarantine doors. I’ve personally been contacted by multiple journalists asking for statistics proving that we’ve all suddenly become incredibly horny now we’re confined to our houses.
To be cynical for a moment, it is true to say that LELO, like most online retailers, has seen a spike in traffic and sales over recent weeks, increasing as stay-home orders have proliferated. But are we really having more sex?
One journalist asked for my comments on quarantine booty calls, another for specifics on the number of calories likely to be burned through increased masturbation. The world has gone mad. But I suspect differently. I suspect that these journalists are simply fishing for a story that fits their assumptions, rather than the facts to inform a story. (No offence journos, you know I love ya.)
It’s commonly stated that there’s a baby boom nine months after any disaster, the result of couples seeking reassurance in difficult times through increased intimacy – sex. Unfortunately, these results tend to be overblown and only related to certain situations, such as very low-level hurricanes. And here’s the thing: I don’t think there’s likely going to be a baby boom in nine months’ time as a result of all this coronavirus nookie.
The self-isolation imposed by Covid-19 is not, in my opinion, leading to more sex. More masturbation, perhaps, but not more sex. What’s happening right now is far more complex than such a simple outcome would allow. It’s not a case of healthy, horny people stuck at home with nothing better to do. There are more factors at play.
People are worried. There’s stress, fear, anxiety, and politics to consider. For the most part, all of these are obstacles to sex, not commensurate with it. We’re at home more, sure, but we’re at home waiting to get sick, scared for our jobs, our rent, our mortgages, our elderly relatives, our wider families, and ourselves. We’re worried about whether the power might go out, or whether the virus might spontaneously mutate into something even more dangerous.
We have a little extra freedom to have more sexual time, but we also have far more on our minds than usual. Our news is now just rolling coverage of death and infection statistics, it’s all we talk about with friends and colleagues, and it’s influencing every decision we make. It has taken over our lives, and our sex lives with it.
Now, there is a percentage of people who become more sexually receptive in times of stress, it’s a normal part of human behaviourism that genuinely affects a portion of our society. It’s part of the ‘dual control’ model of sexual response, in which our sexual functioning is influenced by stimulatory and inhibitory processes, which increases or decreases our sexual arousal according to contextual cues. For some, the threat of death and being in touch with one’s mortality increases the drive to do something that makes them feel more alive—and for many, that’s sex.
But, back to the majority of us who I don’t think are having tons of sex right now. The thing is that, there’s a lot more going on right now, than just healthy, horny people trapped at home. There’s much more complexity, which gets in the way of sex:
And let’s be honest. Many of us aren’t stuck at home with the people we find most sexually exciting. We’re with family, or with long-term partners, with whom sex may have already gotten stale. and not with “potential” sex partners. It’s true that the fear of death actually increases most people’s sexual receptiveness.
There’s enough pressure and stress on us all right now for us to start inventing more for ourselves. If you think everyone’s having a ton of sex and you feel bad because you’re not, don’t worry. I stake my reputation on it, for the little that it’s worth: very few people are having as much sex as the media might make you think.
More importantly, this is a time for us to be together regardless of any sexual connotations. It’s lonely and scary out there right now, our primary concern should be our wellbeing and the welfare of others, not horniness. There are more important things to worry about.
And besides, masturbation is better. Fact.
Now, say I’m wrong, and say in nine months or so, there is a sudden boom in births. What are we going to call the category these new people fall into? Quarantine-agers? Covidennials? Leave your suggestions in the comments!
*In this article, we are using the words sex and intercourse as synonymous, as is done in popular culture in general. However, we’d also like to acknowledge that most women don’t orgasm from intercourse alone and need some type of clitoral stimulation, either alone or coupled with penetration.
Facts checked by:
Dr. Laurie Mintz
Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Florida, teaching Human Sexuality to hundreds of students a year. She has published over 50 research articles and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Mintz also has maintained a private practice for over 30 years, working with individuals and couples on general and sexual issues. She is also an author and speaker, spreading scientifically-accurate, sex-positive information to enhance sexual pleasure.