Lockdown libido: How Irish people's sex lives are being affected by the pandemic
"It's so biologically engrained in us to have physical touch in order to feel safe."
Over the last year we've experienced the ups and downs of life and the same goes for our sex life. Some people have completely lost their sex drive while others have seen a spike in their libido - it's all relevant.
Resident sex therapist on the Jennifer Zamparelli Show on RTÉ's 2FM, Rachel Cooke, talks us through Irish people's shifting libidos during lockdown, as well as how to figure out what's right for you intimacy-wise in your relationship.
"The majority of people have noticed a shift in the direction of lower libido," she tells Her, "but a few people have seen a real spike."
Being in lockdown has made a difference to many Irish people's sexual relationships, which can be good and bad. "Over the lockdown most couples are spending so much time together that it's very hard to have the same level of anticipation and novelty and missing each other," she says.
According to Rachel, some people like to prepare themselves for being intimate and this is next to impossible when they live together. "There's a lack of space to your self to be able to regulate your nervous system, feel in a good space and prep for seeing that person if you like to do that."
Rachel says that for many, their lower libido can be down to stress during the pandemic. She's found a lot of her clients are missing physical touch. 'For some people it's not so much about the sex specifically as it is about the physical contact, it's often said that touch is one of the five love languages.
"It's so biologically engrained in us to have physical touch in order to feel safe and to regulate our experience and our emotions."
In fact, sexual relationships seem to be suffering more now than they were during the first lockdown last year. "It's changed because there was the novelty of what was going on," says Rachel. "There was an exciting element to that."
But over the last while people have found it harder to connect with others, which could impact the nervous system.
Rachel says we need to take the time to learn about what we want and what we like and what makes us happy in our relationships. "There's so much more on social media now, different types of coaches and therapists with diverse opinions and information so you can decide what works for you and choose to get some help," she says.
"I've definitely seen a shift in people being so much more open, to not just accessing help but also talking about things.
"Having more conversation generally means there's going to be less shame, less fear and people will have more education and more information about what's out there and what can they do."
You can hear Rachel on the Jennifer Zamparelli show on 2FM every Wednesday at 11am. If you have any questions for Rachel, you can send them in to the show too.