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Health, Sex and Coronavirus: How does sexual intimacy change during a pandemic?

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

March 28, 2020

by Jessica Zucker, NBC News

 

Are we likely to see the kind of baby boom that tends to follow disasters? Probably. But if you're feeling an aversion to sex, know that your reaction is also typical.


Elizabeth, 24, is a teacher living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She and her husband are currently out of work as the result of the coronavirus that has infected more than 85,000 people in the U.S. and resulted in nearly 1,300 deaths. Normally, both would be working at least 55 hours a week as educators, but now that coronavirus precautions have shutdown a reported 91,000 public and private schools, affecting an estimated 41.6 million students, caregivers and teachers, they are spending their time at home with each other, stuck in a 900-square-foot apartment.


Elizabeth and her husband have found a way to cope, though. Sex, and lots of it.


“We’re both really embracing this as time together rather than using it to stress out,” Elizabeth tells me.(The names of some people interviewed below have been changed for privacy reasons.) “There’s fear in general, sure — there are people that I love that are at a higher risk — but sex has definitely been a distraction for us. It’s finally a moment when we’re not thinking about or talking about this virus.”


As the coronavirus has spread and calls for all Americans to engage in social distancing and self-quarantining practices have increased, how and when Americans have sex is changing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people stay at least 6 feet away from each other at all times, unless they live with a partner or family member. That amount of distance certainly curtails the possibility of physical contact with a relative stranger, meaning dating — casual or not — is indefinitely on hold for many people around the country. And since research has shown touch to be beneficial to both our physical and mental health, these necessary precautions are nothing short of frustrating for those of us who crave that level of intimacy but are being