Why some people’s sex lives sizzled while others’ fizzled during Covid

Couple — IANS

New York, June 18 (IANS) Those who maintained healthy sexual and intimate lives early in the pandemic used sex as a coping mechanism to enhance their relationship with their partners and while some people’s sex lives sizzled, others’ fizzled, new research has revealed.
The analyses showed nine of the coping mechanisms had a significant impact on people’s sex lives.
These included strategies such as using sex to feel more desirable; expanding one’s sexual repertoire through experimentation and risk tactics, such as trying new sexual activities or medicines; fostering intimacy through sex and other relational strategies; caution and logistical strategies, which included being more selective about one’s partners or attentive to safe sex practices; and creativity and innovation strategies, such as becoming more playful and spontaneous.
The remaining mechanisms included online and technology strategies such as watching porn and using phone sex; combining sex with substances like drugs and alcohol; context-related strategies such as having sex in public places; using sex to relax and other diversion strategies; and educational strategies.
Liza Berdychevsky, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, conducted an online survey of 675 people to explore the differences between people whose sex lives had fizzled and those whose sex lives had flourished.
The sample was more than 65 per cent female, and a similar proportion of the participants were in the US.
In one of three papers, published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, participants were asked if they ever engaged in 59 sexual coping strategies to enhance their sex lives during the first year of the pandemic.
The resilience of individuals’ love lives — including the frequency of their sexual activity, desire and satisfaction — was significantly predicted by their engagement in the sexual coping mechanisms studied, Berdychevsky found.
In another paper, published in the Journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy, she further investigated these coping mechanisms, clarifying their determinants of use and usefulness, and examining their impacts on the quantity and quality of sex.
Women were significantly more likely to engage in sexual activity to pursue goals, to benefit their relationships and to utilise caution and logistical strategies compared with men.
Women rated coping strategies such as using sex as a source of creativity, pleasure or as a diversion, and educational strategies as more useful than did the men in the study. Sexual desire was driven by gender and was greater for men than for women.
In another paper from this study, published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, the findings revealed significant declines in the frequency, quality and diversity of sexual behaviours, desire and satisfaction.
“The psychological effects of the pandemic will last for a while, even with the ‘new normal’, and this will be felt in sexual expression and relationships,” Berdychevsky said.
“It is essential to train people on sexual coping resources and strategies to protect their sexual well-being and quality of life,” she added.

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