Erotic recess or turn-off?
Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) stress affecting your sexual relationships? Sex therapist, couples therapist and psychologist Jeanine Souren understands that coronavirus home-confinement is not an immediate turn-on. Here she shares some answers to questions like; ‘can I have sex now?’ and ‘how to get my sexy business back during home confinement?’
How Being Stuck at Home During The Coronavirus Can Both Reduce Desire and Ignite Lust.
As a sex therapist, I am seeing an (online) surge of people (both singles and couples) reaching out for sexual behavior issues during the coronavirus-time. One of my doctor friends is reporting an increase in requests for “little blue pills,” while some of my clients are asking me how to get their sex-spark back, with so much time together.
Robert; “I was hoping for spontaneous sex activities with Sophie, now that we’re both working from home. Sophie however, seems even less interested, than usual. Instead of making love whenever we feel like it, I find myself watching more porn. That’s not what I had in mind at all”.
Sophie: “I am irritated about the mess he makes and seem to notice a lot more of his less attractive habits. When he leaves the door to the toilet open, it not only smells but it turns me off big-time. Having to be a home-fairy doesn’t work for the sex-fairy to come out”.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions professionals are getting since the COVID - 19 experience began. Perhaps the answers may help you deal with sex-related relationship issues during this new situation.
I don’t feel like having sex with my partner at all. I am in a different head-space - worried about Coronavirus. How do I get my sexy business back? Fact: By realising you are in a different head-space, you are aware that what happens in your head, has a huge influence on your body’s responses or sensors. If you spend too much time in your head following your thoughts, there is less room for sensations, It is difficult to feel the sexy sparks. Creative solution #1: Thinking about sex, even if it is ‘I don’t feel like it’, helps bring your attention to the topic. Stay with that. The next step can be, to gently, yet purposely, distance yourself from your thoughts and to guide your attention to your sensations. Start turning the spark on in you; go to that internal space where you stored your sexual desires and fantasies. Plan it, it won’t happen spontaneously. Focus on what you hear, what you feel when you touch your skin, what you smell and how you feel in your body. Experience your erotic self. This is not meant to make you feel better, but to make you feel better. To make you get in touch with feeling. Show up, and from that place, see if you can connect with your partner and try having sex as if your last time was 3 years ago.... As Ester Perel explains, ‘Sex isn’t something you do, it’s a place you go, a space you enter inside yourself or with another.’ Creative solution #2: You could try experimenting with slow sex. Communicate with your partner, without words. Speak with your body, learn it’s language. Learn your partner’s language by starting anew. As if you both are curious novelists, who are creative, unpredictable and even mysterious. Then, see if you can enjoy sex in a way you did before you relied on routines. *Note to the Roberts in my practice; not being an open book about everything (think of not closing the bathroom door or not showering daily, or wearing your sweatpants at home all the time) can be helpful to keep the passion alive. Nobody wants to see their guy’s facial expression on the toilet being anywhere similar to his orgasm face. Believe me, this is NOT sexy.
Is it safe to have sex now? If you have the coronavirus, and you want to have sex; the safest option is to have solo-sex. But what if this ‘party of one’ is not satisfying? Fact: There is no proof that you can get the coronavirus from having sex, or from passing bodily fluids from your penis or vagina. There is proof however, that you can get it from (tongue) kissing with someone or touching infected places and licking your fingers afterwards or putting your hand in your mouth. Hence the advice to wash hands more often. The virus is located in your lungs, throat and nose. And also, from being near an infected person. So the coronavirus is not a STD. The distance to the other person however, is an issue. The NYCDOH (New York Department of Health) guidelines, say that ‘the next safest partner is someone you live with, and if you have sex with others, have as few partners as possible’. Creative solution: Having sex with a partner and keeping a physical distance probably takes you to a next level of creativity. There is no rule that says masturbation is a solo activity; a joint masturbation session takes trust and (a lot of) transparency. Being that open to your partner can deepen your connection. Anyone being allowed to share a very intimate, deep and real passionate side of the other, is special.
My husband wants us to wear masks during sex; for protection. Is that necessary? Perhaps your partner is careful or perhaps he was inspired by the current wave of coronavirus-porn, featuring people wearing N95 respiratory face masks, and sometimes full on Hazmat suits. Fact: The N95 respirators can prevent transmission, only if they maintain a tight seal with your faces; which - during sexual activity - asks for pretty much frozen positions. Standard surgical masks won’t prevent transmission during sex and close proximity because the mask is likely to not remain in place. And then, there’s a risk of when you touch the mask when you take it off, and then touch your face, you can contaminate yourself if the virus is carried unknowingly by a partner. Creative solution: See 1 and 2 above.
Is there an increased chance of getting the coronavirus when having anal sex? Fact: There were some rumors that the coronavirus is transferable via poop. There is no proof that by having anal sex, you are at a greater risk than via penis-vagina sex. The coronavirus has been recognized in poop, but as of now, it’s unclear if this is the living or the dead virus (source: soaids.nl). People are advised to use one toilet for themselves and to clean this daily. However, as long as it’s not yet clear, perhaps the NYCDOH’s advice is good to know. Namely, they say; ‘rimming (mouth to anus) might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter your mouth’. Creative solution: Don’t involve poop. If you do engage in anal sex, make sure you wear a condom and rubber gloves. Healthier alternatives are sexting, chat rooms or solo-sex. Always wash up before and after sex, including cleaning all sex-toys, keyboards or touch screens.
With the porn free upgrades right now, and more time on my hands (no pun intended), I am masturbating daily. Will this affect my sexual desire for my partner? Fact: Since the corona outbreak, Pornhub reports a jump in viewership. Probably because there is more time and opportunity now that most of us are confined to home. Most of the research is lacking on the influence of porn on sexual desire, underscoring the need for extensive investigation using methods that have participants remove the variable of internet porn. Personal opinion: As a sex therapist, my view is that watching porn is neither good nor bad, it’s different than having sex with your partner. It’s almost comparing apples and pears. How real is the sex in porn, after all? Creative solution: My suggestion would be that if you are drawn more to watching porn, see you if you can entice your partner to watch with you. Having a discussion about content choice beforehand, is advised. You may be surprised and see something you would like to try yourself. If your partner is not interested; try to talk about it and come up with other ways to spark eroticism. There are erotic or sexy stories online to read or listen to; which are called aural erotica. Listening to explicit content can be a huge turn-on for couples and an intimate couples-experience too.
My partner just got back from an area with lots of corona infected people; can we have sex? Fact: For those of us in long-term monogamous relationships; as long as your partner has no symptoms or virus-related complaints, there is little chance of getting the virus through sex. However, it is advised to abstain from sex if your partner shows symptoms or is infected. The chances of getting the virus are high, if you do have sex with an infected partner. What about asymptomatic folks? Creative solution: Get familiar with your own anatomy, try different kinds of orgasms, like the no-hands orgasm or edging. Your body can experience different sensations you may not yet be aware of. See if you can use this time to expand your self-love-repertoire by upgrading your orgasm from a quick release to a moving experience and perhaps you can engage your partner in the process without being physically close.
In conclusion, I want to acknowledge that the current situation is a challenge for us all, including those in relationships. Everyone is affected. Relationships are important in these times, perhaps even more so, as our awareness on what matters most is no longer peripheral.
If you find that your relationship is starting to suffer, you can always reach out to a couples therapist. Most couples therapists including me, have switched to using video calling for our clients.
About the author: Jeanine Souren is a sex therapist, psychologist and couples therapist who offers intensive couples programmes on location, virtually and also in English. She intimately understands the high stakes of an unhappy. Get in touch via the form below to speak to Drs. Jeanine Souren about your relationship today and be sure to browse her Time For Each Other programs.