Sex After Lockdown

Victoria Scott - 10 July 2020

As the UK begins to breathe again after a Covid19 lockdown, are our sex lives in danger of being left behind?

When Covid19 lockdown measures were first announced in the Spring of 2020 there were mixed reactions from sexually active adults. Many promptly got their credit or debit cards out and went on a sex toy spending spree (and if it was with us, we thank you!) when potentially faced with months of sexual self-isolation or with the partners they lived with. But as the tabloid and broadsheet features highlighting this began to subside, the novelty (not that there was anything remotely funny) wore off and the reality of the situation set in, it was arguably only a matter of time before sex – or lack of it – got serious.

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There were floutings of the isolation rules, in some cases by high profile individuals who should have known better. There were privacy concerns raised as people all over the world started having virtual orgies on digital video conferencing platforms. Divorce rates in China skyrocketed as couples force to spend increasing amounts of time with each other reached breaking point with one another. The media was also reporting on how our libidos were plummeting during lockdown. In short, it was one big hotchpotch of sexual ups, downs, and unknowns: the world really was in unchartered sexual ground.

So in light of all this, the research published by Anglia Ruskin University at the end of May 2020 offered an interesting – if rather sobering – insight into lockdown lust among adults self-isolating in the UK during March and April. The survey revealed that 60% of respondents weren’t sexually active: not even masturbating.

At first glance, this appeared to suggest a rather bleak picture in homes across the country. But it has to be said that the survey used a convenience sample drawn from the researchers’ own contacts and the likes of the BBC website for example. It isn’t nationally representative and so no solid conclusions can be drawn or inferred from around the UK. That said, it is however the responses of close to one thousand people rather than just a dozen or so folk gathered around a pub table (not that any were open). And for several hundred of these respondents it was clear that they weren’t exactly swinging from the proverbial sexual chandeliers during lockdown.

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To many of us, this is entirely understandable. A global viral pandemic; entire industries hit for six; social lockdown and economic doom and gloom predicted. This isn’t the stuff conducive to one big spring or summer of love.

And even as pubs and restaurants slowly begin to reopen, it’s going to take a bit more than that to get our collective mojos back in gear. And as much as we all smirked when the politicians talked about ‘support bubbles’ should there be a bigger effort to #GetBritainBonkingAgain (and yes, this does include self-pleasure!) ?

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Two issues particularly come to the fore when considering such things: safe sex and good health.

As well as doing everything possible to prevent sexually transmitted infections, one now has to be mindful as to what can be done to minimise Covid19 infection. Easier said than done when current and future sexual partners could be asymptomatic carriers.

There are also varying risk levels associated with different sexual acts. Solo masturbation is obviously the safest. As long as good hygiene is adhered to and your sex toys are clean (and we’ve already talked about how to do just this) before using them, you’re good to go.

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The next level of sexual activity is still solo-based but interacting with others by embracing technology: embracing remote controlled sex toys and/or through audio and video communications. While physically the risks are still negligible – assuming you’re by yourself – there are privacy and legal issues that at the very least one should be aware of before indulging with wild abandon. Remember: safe sex isn’t just about the physical: it’s about reputation and privacy too.

As you’d expect when the fun becomes mutual rather than solo in the same room, the risk escalates. Health professionals and academics have recently highlighted the use of facemasks during sex. But how realistic is this, especially if kissing is a key ingredient of your lovemaking? Some people may already be pondering whether they might as well just wear full length condoms similar to what Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley wore in the classic scene from The Naked Gun and be done with it. Alternatively, if you’ve long harboured a desire to indulge in realistic medical roleplay then you’ve now got the ultimate opportunity to do so.

All this assumes however that people are willing and able to get back in the proverbial saddle. But people react to threats and external forces differently. Some will see sexual activity as the perfect escape or release: others will not feel remotely in the mood if worried about unemployment, finances, or other things in their life. And now there’s Covid19.

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But it’s important for those normally sexually active to keep their hand in the game, so to speak. And there’s a very good reason for this.

Various research studies have shown the physical and mental benefits of sexual activity, and conversely highlighted the risks associated with inactivity. For instance, the Anglia Ruskin research article mentions previous US studies that highlight the link between sexual inactivity and "…cancer, bladder/bowel problems, major surgery, poor vision, mental health conditions, and cardiovascular disease…". It also mentions other 'risk factors' including diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Even things like hearing loss and dementia among men, and other conditions among women such as joints, bone or back problems and gum disease are recognised as associated with sexual inactivity.

All things considered, trying one's best to avoid any of these conditions is a mighty big motivation to be getting in the mood for some mischief: even if you’re not feeling particularly sexy. You can be really helping yourself stay healthy by indulging nonetheless, even if it’s on your own.

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Statistics released by NHS England show that since the beginning of the pandemic and up until the beginning of June, 95% of deaths attributed to Covid19 involved other health conditions. Less than 5% of deaths had no other medical conditions. So with a vaccine currently nowhere in sight, for the vast majority of people, staying in the best physical health possible seems like a really good idea.
A REALLY good idea.

And what’s great for staying in good shape and overall health? Yep, that’s right. Sex. Or at the very least, orgasms.

In other words, if you want to stay healthy, give yourself a great start by staying sexy too.

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