Dear Dr. G,

I read with interests your article about the enhanced sexual interests during the MCO to the extent the condoms and morning after pills are flying off the shelves.

Some even predicted a baby boom, as a result of the over sexual activities, by the beginning of next year.

I beg to defer my own experience with the lockdown.

In the initial stages of the MCO, I was feeling elevated as it felt like an extended vacation.

Of course, my wife and I were very active in our bedroom activities as we were “hardworking from home!”

As time progresses, I began to have lower libido and become disinterested.

In fact, it is not just the libido. Overall, I find the monotonous life had resulted in me having short temper and indulge in comfort eating.

I also find myself having insomnia as I am over sleeping during the day.

I would like to put Dr. G on the spot as why am I bucking the trend with the depleted libido as compared to the reported data.

Is sex really that necessary in a relationship?

Can you please tell me whether the lockdown can induce lower sexual drives?

Lastly, what can I do to survive a few more weeks of this as many predict the MCO to be extended?

Yours truly,
Lowdown Larry

The MCO and the anxiety surrounding the Covid-19 infection are affecting all of us in all aspects of life. Although some report from Wuhan revealed an increase in consumption of condoms and morning-after contraception. Such statistics may reflect an early increase in sexual behaviours, as couples turning to sex for comfort or as a temporary distraction. However, as these are unprecedented times and more meaningful data on the long-term impact of continuous stress and anxiety on libido is lacking.

Previous publications supported depression and anxiety have a negative effect on libido. With the dark days looming ahead, some people may be out of work and fearing possible unemployment can affect sexual desire. This kind of concerns also crosses other domains including job security, health, family’s health and the ability to have access to medical care, to name a few.

Stress affects sexual desire and functions differently between men and women, therefore it’s impossible to address the gender differences. Sexual behaviour is generally affected by two nervous systems, namely the sympathetic and the parasympathetic system. When an individual is faced with stress and anxiety, the sympathetic system will induce increase shot of energy to deal with the challenges.

When the sympathetic system is on overdrive, it is impossible to stay relax and enjoy sex. This may manifest itself as erectile dysfunction in men, but the adverse impact may not be so obvious in women. The persistent stress can induce the release of the stress hormone, which inhibits the production of testosterone. As testosterone plays a major role in sex drive in both men and women, the reduction in libido is often significant during stress. Finally, the impact of stress hormone may also result in aggression or irritation towards partners. This can often induce friction in relationships.

Accepting occasional stress and temporary hiccup in relationships is common. For most couples, the transient stress will resolve and sex drive can get back into the swing of things. Regaining sexual desire in the early stages is important to prevent misunderstanding and distancing in a relationship. Open communication and addressing the underlying issues are the keys. Admitting to the stress and not feeling ashamed is usually the first step. Open communication and overcoming stress together is vital. Simple gestures like cuddles, kisses and hugs can help the body to relax and diminish tension. Additional bedroom actions such as massages, role-play and date nights are also a good distraction and induce comfort in each other.

Sex itself can relieve stress by raising the endorphin and other feel-good hormones that can boost the mood. As a form of exercise, sex can also help couples to calm down. Many studies such as a Scottish study published in the Journal of Biological Psychology also found sexual activities prevent hypertension during stressful events. There is also scientific evidence sex can have a positive impact on immunity, which is vital during the lockdown.

The highly regarded and sadly deceased Kobe Bryant once said: “Everything negative, such as pressure and challenges is all an opportunity for me to rise!” Despite the initial “euphoria” of an extended “vacation” following the lockdown, the multiple extensions of the MCO are keeping us waiting with bated breath of the days ahead.

Dr. G is often put on the spot by individuals facing dwindling bedroom desire while coping with the stress of uncertainty. It is usually counterproductive to succumb to the pressure and avoid intimacy. Treating the lockdown as a “pause in life”, and explore all the bedroom experiences as an “opportunity to rise”, might just be the key for many magical bedroom moments for the future days beyond the lockdown.

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