The surprising impact of the pandemic on our sex lives
When we were plunged into lockdown in March 2020, some experts predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated stresses and strains could wreak havoc on romantic relationships, including our sex lives.
After all, being stuck with your other half 24/7 while also WFH, home schooling and doom-scrolling the news isn't necessarily the best recipe for Netflix and chilling.
Interestingly, however, one recent survey has suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic may actually have had a more positive impact on our bedroom activities.
New research from sexual wellness brand LoveHoney found that far from causing a sex drought, four in ten are having more sex and WFH may have something to do with it.
The changes in work patterns brought about by the pandemic meant that many are finding more time for intimacy, with 43% admitting to having more sex while working from home.
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And couples aren't just getting intimate more often either, they're also being more adventurous in the bedroom with 23% trying new sex positions, a fifth (20%) trying new sex toys, 12% dressing up during sex and a further 12% experimenting with other new kinks.
Far from acting as the ultimate turn-off, almost two-thirds (64%) of those quizzed about their sex lives said getting intimate had helped relieve stress and given them a form of escape during the crisis.
"Stressful periods can definitely have a positive impact on couple's sexual happiness and we have definitely seen that over the last two years of the pandemic," explains Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at LoveHoney.
"A huge crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, concentrates the mind very quickly. As a result this made a lot of couples focus on what was really important to them."
Knight says spending more time at home during lockdown and while WFH created sexual possibilities for many couples, which were not an option before the pandemic with many tied to an exhausting 9-5 office routine.
"For some, lunch breaks became 'lust breaks' as couples took advantage of having extra time together at home to improve their intimacy.
"Unable to see friends or relatives for long periods, couples were able to enjoy almost limitless time together at home, with many looking at ways to sexually experiment to fill in the the time and get over the stress they were feeling," Knight adds.
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It isn't just couples who have turned to sex as a stress reliever either. Knight says LoveHoney witnessed a spike in sales of quiet sex toy purchases, which proved popular during the pandemic with singles living in shared accommodation with thin walls.
"Particularly students, who wanted to be a little more discreet about their sex toy use," she adds.
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As a result of this pandemic-induced intimacy, Valentine’s Day looks set to be the most passionate ever this year.
Half of those questioned (50%) said that Valentine’s will be even more important because of the disruption over the last two years caused by the pandemic and 53% are planning to be more experimental as a result.
Sex O’Clock kicks off at 9pm, with the three hour period up to midnight identified as the most popular time-frame when 37% of couples will be getting it on.
Four out of ten (39%) have sex once but even more like to do it twice (43%) and an impressive 12% hope to have the stamina for three Valentine's Day sex sessions this year.
Couples looking to spice up Valentine’s with a sexy outfit are most likely to choose a nurse/doctor (43%), followed by French maid/butler (36%), secretary (32%), fantasy character such as superhero (21%), bunny (20%), cop (18%), and firefighter (12%).
“Sex has been a lifeline to so many of us over the last two years and it is great to see so many people talking about how its benefits as a stress buster as we approach Valentine’s," Knight explains.
“Valentine’s will be the most passionate ever this year. We’ve all been through a really tough time over the last two years and record numbers of us will be using the big day to celebrate what is most important to us.
“We tend to be a little more kinky on Valentine’s, with lots of couples splashing out on sexy role play outfits. No surprise that doctors’ and nurses’ outfits are the most popular.”
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How Britain has got kinkier during the pandemic - new sex activities tried over the last two years
1 New sex positions - 23%
2 New sex toys - 20%
3 New masturbation techniques - 19%
4 New role play scenarios 12.5%
5 New kinks 12%