Sex Drive in the Midst of a Pandemic

So, how is everyone feeling? Super horny? Like you’ll never be horny again? No change at all? From some very unscientific surveys I’ve done, I’d say the human race is all over the place right now, which makes sense. People are going to respond differently to the stress and anxiety of the time.

 Melissa with MicBlog interviewed a sex researcher and professor from Indiana University Bloomington who explained the combination of anxiety about the virus and being cooped up with kids/partners/family could easily cause people’s sex drives to decline. She explains that being with a partner 24/7 can lessen desire and that some space from your partners is needed to reignite that passion. She also points out that a drop in desire would make sense from an evolutionary standpoint, since it would be risky to conceive right now when we don’t know when this is going to end or how much it will affect us financially. On the other hand, some people use sex to relieve depression and anxiety. Sex might help distract them from what is going on in the world or offer them comfort.


I asked 16 of my friends and family (ranging from 26-67 years old, monogamous to monogamish to polyamorous, straight to bisexual to gay) whether their sex drive has increased, decreased, or stayed the same since the stay-at-home orders/pandemic began. The numbers were very close; 7 said stayed the same, 4 said increased, and 5 said decreased. In my own household, my husband and I have seen a marked decrease in sex drive (though we are seeing a slow rebound back to normal as we get used to this new routine), while my boyfriend’s has remained the same. I have my own theories on why this is, which I’ll expand on below.

I also asked this question in a polyamory Facebook group. Out of 44 people, 3 said their sex drive had stayed the same, 23 said it had increased, and 18 said it had decreased. If you add both surveys together, that’s approximately 17% stayed the same, 45% increased, and 38% decreased. Honestly, that was a little surprising to me, as I really thought there would be more people with a decreased sex drive due to the stress and uncertainty of the current time. Of course, this was just a small snapshot in time of a small sample size. There have been a few people who have said that initially their sex drive decreased but that it has now picked back up. So, depending on when I had taken this survey, the numbers could have came out different. If I ask a month from now, they will be different. As one commenter put it, “I’m either totally horny or completely disinterested. I feel that represents stress.”

Factors Affecting Drive

How Much Life Has Changed

It seems that the people who said their sex drive had stayed the same also mentioned that their lives hadn’t changed very much since this whole thing started. I’ve noticed that my boyfriend’s life has changed the least out of all three of us. He still gets up, goes out to work, and comes home, which was his schedule before this whole thing started. He doesn’t work on the frontlines of the pandemic, so there’s no increased stress there. And therefore, I feel like it makes sense that his sex drive would be mostly unaffected.

On the other hand, my husband and I have had a bigger change of routine. Though my husband works from home, he no longer leaves the house twice a day for his side job or 2-3 times a week for volunteering. He can no longer go over to his girlfriend’s house every Tuesday night or visit family for dinner 1-2 times a week. Even though I am a stay-at-home mom, I no longer leave the house twice a day to take my son to and from preschool. And to add to that, I no longer have that break from my toddler that I had gotten so used to. I can’t stop at Starbucks to write my blog or walk around the mall/Target to pass the time. And because our routine has been shaken up quite a bit, we both initially had a large decrease in sex drive (though these last couple of days, as we are finally settling into our new routine, we’ve both noticed a rebound in our sex drives).

Of course, these are tiny changes in comparison to other people. I know quite a few couples who are used to being apart for several days each week because one spouse travels for work. Now, all of a sudden, they’re stuck at home together 24/7! Both of these couples indicated an increased sex drive, which could be because they are seeing each other more and have more opportunities for sex. I’m wondering if their drives will decrease over time as they get used to being stuck together 24/7.

Where You Work/What’s Going on with Your Work

People working in the medical field, at the grocery store, or anywhere else that has increased interaction with the general public are generally going to be more stressed right now than others. They have an increased risk of contracting the virus and bringing it home to their partners/families. Not only that, but some of those in the medical field are witnessing firsthand exactly how scary this virus can be. Then, there’s the people who have been laid off, lost wages, or have reduced hours. They are going to be more stressed than others for financial reasons and might have feelings of shame and worry for not being able to provide for your family. All of this stress could put a damper on sex drive.

Having Kids at Home

I personally would think having kids constantly at home would tank everyone’s sex drive, but apparently not. Many of the people I surveyed are stuck home with young children and still report an increased sex drive. There’s also a large group of moms in one of my Facebook mom’s groups that are actively trying to conceive while stuck at home with their other kids! I’m not the kind of person who can get in the mood while the children are awake, though I’ve heard stories from many other parents who sneak away while their kids are playing and have a quickie. Whatever works for you, I guess!

Reasons for Wanting More Sex

Comfort and Connection

Multiple people in the poly FB group I surveyed commented on the fact that they were “craving the feeling of safety and connection” and using sex as a “form of connection and as a way of giving up control.” Needing to feel safe and connected to another person makes sense in these uncertain times. It also can help with the loneliness of not being able to see other friends and family.  In terms of using sex as a way to give up control, that can run into the realm BDSM – which also would make sense as people would enjoy the order and structure that comes through play when they may feel so out of control in the real world right now.

Release Endorphins to Reduce Stress

One person brought up the fact that they were used to getting a lot of exercise before the pandemic, so they see their increased sex drive as their body’s way of trying to get them to participate in an activity that will help release those same endorphins that they would have gotten from exercise at the gym. Sex is not only considered a great form of exercise, but it also can lower blood pressure during a stressful event, such as a pandemic. Releasing those endorphins helps to boost mood, calm you down, and relieve stress.

You’re Normal

Whatever you are feeling, you’re normal. Everyone processes stress, anxiety, and a change of routine differently. So, don’t beat yourself up if you all of a sudden have no interest in sex with your partner(s). Don’t feel embarrassed if you all of a sudden have an over-the-top sex drive. Don’t feel weird if your sex drive hasn’t been affected at all. It’s all normal.

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