Sultry ‘silver lining’ of lockdown

3 minute read

Turns out the outbreak of the spicy cough was a lot spicier for some.

As we all now know, nothing tests the strength of a romantic relationship – or any relationship, for that matter – quite like spending months locked up together in covid purgatory.   

According to American researchers the heat level of that spice depends on your gender and your motivation.  

Professor Liza Berdychevsky and her team from the University of Illinois conducted an online survey of close to 700 people during the first year of the pandemic to identify the differences between those whose sex lives had flourished and those whose sex lives had fizzled. 

Participants were asked if they had engaged in one or more of the 60 sexual coping strategies over the course of the first year of the pandemic. They were then asked to rate how useful they thought each strategy would be for enhancing their sex lives, even if they hadn’t tried the strategy themselves.  

Their responses showed that those who used sex as a coping mechanism had more healthy and resilient sex lives, and apparently more satisfying sex, during the early years of the pandemic. 

The authors also identified nine coping mechanisms that had the biggest impact on participants’ sex lives while stuck in lockdown.  

These included goal-setting strategies, like using sex to feel more “desirable”, creativity and “innovation” strategies such as being more playful and spontaneous in bed, experimentation and risk tactics, and caution strategies like being more selective about sex partners or more attentive to safe sex practices.  

Other coping mechanisms included combining sex with substances like drugs or alcohol, “context-related” strategies like having sex in public places, “diversion” strategies like using sex to relax, and educational strategies like attending therapy or classes. 

The authors also found that women were much more likely to engage in sexual activity to pursue goals, to benefit their relationships compared with men, while men on average reported higher levels of sexual desire. 

Women also rated coping strategies such as using sex as a source of creativity, pleasure or as a diversion, and educational strategies as more useful than men did.  

The authors say the findings emphasise the importance of sexual education and sexual health as essential services, and can be useful for researchers and health practitioners looking to mitigate the deterioration of people’s intimate and sexual lives.  

“Recognising sexual health, rights, education, and counselling is a prerequisite for appropriate prevention measures during the pandemic,” they wrote.  

“It is vital to ensure the availability of proper resources supporting people’s sexual coping processes during and after the pandemic.” 

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