Study finds that UK couples are having more sex in lockdown. So what are the mental health benefits?
You’ve binge-watched all the latest shows on Netflix, deep-cleaned the shower, and baked five loaves of banana bread – what else is there to do in lockdown?
Well, it appears that some UK couples are keeping busy by getting busy, as research by sex-toy brand We-Vibe has found that 1/5 (18%) live-in couples are having more sex than they normally would, with a further 16% revealing that they are being more adventurous and trying new things.
Of course, these stats don’t come as a huge surprise – and it’s not just because there’s a limit on the number of times you can do that 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. 38% of respondents shared that, since going into lockdown, they have felt an increased need to be physically close to their partners.
And that makes perfect sense. In hard times, physical intimacy can do wonders as psychologist Dr Becky Spelman, We-Vibe’s relationship expert, explains when considering the spike:
“There are many factors at play here. Sex is, in and of itself, a way to relax and unwind. When a couple has sex, it helps them to explore not just their bodies, but also their relationship and feelings of togetherness – helping them to bond as they face this great challenge together.
“Let’s face it, boredom can also be a great motivator to have sex and, as most of us are currently stuck inside with little to do, why not?”
On the physical side of things, sex releases dopamine into our bodies, filling us with happiness and optimism. Then there’s the endorphins, which bring down our stress levels, oxytocin, which makes us feel closer to our partners, and testosterone (in both men and women), that raises our sex-drive – sweeping us up in a self-fulfilling pleasure cycle.
And it’s no fleeting boost, a study from Florida State University found that the ‘afterglow’ of sex can last for up to 48 hours. In addition, with all those bounding feelings rushing around our bodies, we’re more likely to be open and communicate our true feelings after orgasming – according to a 2014 study on ‘pillow talk’. Now more than ever, getting our worries off our chests can be incredibly healing.
“When facing something that is genuinely scary, the wonderful thing is that most of us respond with hope,” Becky finishes. “And what could be more hopeful, more positive, and more optimistic, than asserting ourselves as sexual beings?”
From the feel-good hormone boosts and the togetherness to the plain and simple fun of it, it could appear that there’s really not much better than sex when it comes to feel-good passtimes.