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Sex with Dr. Jess


April 16, 2020

How Isolation Affects Your Sex Life

I was recently interviewed on the topic of how social distancing will affect your sex drive and I’m happy to share my thoughts below.

1. How will staying home affect our sex drives?

This is a time of stress, uncertainty and transition and our responses to distress will vary greatly from person to person and from day to day. If you find that sex helps you to self-soothe, you might find that your sex drive is working overtime and you can’t get enough. If, on the other hand, sex is a source of stress or you’re experiencing tension in the relationship, you may have no interest in sex whatsoever.

All responses are perfectly valid.

This may not be a time to perform or achieve. Many of us are so emotionally drained that we’re just struggling to get by, so don’t feel pressure to have the hottest sex of your life. Instead, focus on your own well-being and look for ways to maintain connections aside from sex (e.g. physical affection, thoughtful conversations, acts of kindness). More below…

2. What does it mean if you’re just not feeling like yourself?

Nobody is feeling normal right now. Everything is disrupted from schedules to finances to our health and fitness. Despite having more time to rest, many people are not sleeping well. Despite having more time spend together, many of us are feeling disconnected from our bodies and our partners. The feelings we’re experiencing are intense — from loss and fear to grief and frustration, all emotional reactions are normal, but many of us don’t have the time or support to self-soothe.

This is a period of distress and it follows that you may have no interest in sex at this time and that’s okay.

3. How can you keep your sex drive healthy while social distancing?

Regardless of whether or not you’re in the mood for sex, look for ways to practice mindfulness and connection:

  • Start your day with a few minutes of wave breathing: visualize yourself lying on a beach; with each inhale allow the waves to roll over your body and with each exhale allow the waves to retreat and roll back out to the ocean.
  • Snuggle under the covers for a few extra minutes in the morning.
  • Pick a code word each day and find one another in your home whenever you hear that word so that you can steal a kiss.
  • Take turns giving one another non-sexual massages/caresses. Try the hand caress: Find a comfortable position. Relax or close your eyes. Sit back as your partner strokes and caresses your hand and arm for 5-10 minutes. Focus only on your own pleasure as you receive their touch. Tune into the movements, textures, temperature and sensations in your body. If your mind wanders, don’t worry; simply bring it back to the present and hone in on the physical sensations of their touch.
  • End the day with a shower visualisation: picture all of your worries washing down the drain
  • Fantasize. Daydream and allow your mind to wander.
  • Talk about sex beginning with the three Fs: feelings, frequency and fantasies.
  • Ask yourself these questions: How do you need to feel in order to enjoy sex? How often do you want to have sex? What are the themes of your fantasies?
  • Experiment with new approaches to sex. Order a new lube or toy. Now is definitely the time to check out app-enabled toys like the We-Vibe Pivot, Chorus or Moxie, as you can control them from afar via the We-Connect app.

If you’re in the mood and your partner isn’t, take sex into your own hands. Solo sex offers many of the same benefits of partnered sex: lower stress levels, heightened relaxation, and feeling more in the moment or more present. It can also help you to enjoy a good night’s sleep, which is associated with a happier relationship, improved cognitive functioning, healthier digestion and boosted immunity.

If you’re not in the mood, but you want to get in the mood, work on responsive sexual desire. If you wait until you’re both spontaneously in the mood for sex, you may never had it. Cultivating responsive desire involves doing something to get yourself physically aroused before you experience sexual desire. Even if you’re not in the mood, touch yourself, fantasize, use a toy or ask your partner to go down on you — you’ll be surprised how responsive your desire is when you do something to get physically aroused first.

For further insights on this, check out my interview with Wendy Miller from the Sex Ed the Musical Podcast below!

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This blog’s feature photo is from the Gender Spectrum Collection.