“Point S”. Sexuality in the Covid era is no longer the same. And it will hardly return as before


When everything is over, everything will be different. Sex included. If phase 1 rhymed with abstinence and virtual sex and phase 2 takes “reunited” but not too much, there are already those who ask questions and think about what the long-term effects exerted by Covid-19 on the sexual sphere of singles, couples and lovers.

According to the German sexual wellness expert Axel-Jürg Potempa, “the news of a very dangerous virus, at first, generates fear, which in turn can provoke an adrenaline flow and a consequent ‘dopamine discharge’ which increase desire and libido “. It will also be for this reason that, during the lockdown, the sale of sex toys it made mind-boggling numbers. To translate the theory into numbers, the Financial Times, which has come to terms with some German companies in the sexual wellness products sector.

“Ritex, the largest German manufacturer of condoms, has seen its sales nearly double in March” compared to the same period in 2019, stresses the FT. And, year on year, the Berlin supplier of vibrators Dildo King has reported an 87% increase in sales since the beginning of the social distancing. Eis.de, the e-commerce leader in the sector, has sold out for its “jumbo” packs of one hundred condoms. But the whole world is a country. Even in Britain, the lingerie and sex toys brand Ann Summers saw a nice plus sign in the post-lockdown sales charts. On Instagram there are even those who thought of launching a #SexToyChallenge: the idea started from the profile of the psychotherapist Taylor Nolan, who wanted to close the “Masturbation May 2020” (month dedicated to auto-eroticism, ed) inviting users to talk about their sexual well-being at the time of the quarantine.

During isolation, growing numbers also for traffic on red light video sites. According to a report published by Pornhub, on March 12 (the date on which the platform first offered Italy free access to its Premium content, ed), traffic recorded an increase of + 57% over the twenty-four hours. Again from the portal statistics, we learn that access by female users would have significantly increased (+ 36%). The male audience, on the other hand, showed an increase in access equal to 24%.

On the sexuality front on the net, it should also be noted that MatchGroup, leader of the dating apps and owner of Tinder, thinks about the introduction of a video chat function, in order to redefine the love approach in the time of Covid. The announcement came in early May with a document addressed to the shareholders by the top management of the company: “Since the daters have shown strong interest in video appointments, our technical and product teams all over the world they quickly mobilized to implement one-to-one video chat features. ”

Furthermore, in full lockdown, Tinder has reached a new record of daily swipes, or profiles browsed by users. In April – it was announced – the number of swipes of women under 30 years of age increased by 37% compared to February. The number of messages sent on all the platforms of the group also increased – in addition to Tinder, ok Cupid, Match.com and Hinge – with a + 27% that rises to 35% for users under 30.

I can’t be without my him. On the other hand, I have a memory full of his photos. But the physical contact, the smell of his skin, is missing, hell if I miss him!“,” I haven’t seen my partner in two weeks and I’m thinking of creating his own 3D figure. I don’t have a printer though “: these are some messages that can be read on the net and that testify that having seen one’s sexual dimension mediated by virtuality were also pairs, in many cases divided by quarantine. Many have chosen “remote sex”: phone calls, sexting, video calls and exchange of selfies have become a way to feel close to the partner despite the limitations. But just take a tour of the forums to understand that these are mild surrogates.

If virtuality played a fundamental role during the lockdown, the physical relationship proper has not been less for the cohabitants, so much so that there are those who wanted to provide ‘ad hoc’ indications for a safe approach. The New York Department of Health, for example, has issued specific guidelines: sexual relations between partners who are not exposed to the risk of infection, or who have passed the two weeks of isolation without presenting symptoms, are possible, while suspension was deemed appropriate. sexual activity for non-cohabiting couples. The NYC Health Department also stressed the importance of auto-eroticism as a risk-free practice, recommending attention to proper personal hygiene and sex toys.

A separate chapter concerns couples with children who, during the lockdown, saw limited privacy and freedom. In everyday life, children are entrusted to school and, at times, to grandparents in extra-school hours, while children are engaged in activities that allow parents to keep their spaces: the pandemic has changed the cards on the table, forcing couples to moments of fleeting intimacy, not always possible. “Abstinence period. I work, my wife is at home with the kids. The offspring does not help, since he gets up at an unspecified time in the late morning and in the evening he never goes to sleep. In addition, my wife is anxious about catastrophic news”, Writes a user on a forum dedicated to relationships.

And so the specter of the crisis is revealed: in Italy, as already happened in China, at the end of phase 1 there was a boom in divorce requests. The quarantine, in fact, saw latent tensions explode or exacerbated already critical situations, leading the partners to the decision to take different paths: the sexual dimension is certainly implicated.

Complicated times even for lovers and for regulars of clandestine encounters: limited travel and confinement certainly did not lend them their side. A few weeks ago, Neil Ferguson had made the news: 51-year-old luminary of mathematical models applied to the epidemiology and theorist of the English lockdown, forced to resign as a Downing Street consultant after being flushed by the Daily Telegraph to violate, in meetings illegal immigrants with their lover, the restrictions he himself recommended and obtained for millions of Britons. “Professor Lockdown” sprinkled his head on ashes, acknowledging his “error of judgment”.

But here we are phase 2 which – the experts warn – must not mean “free everyone”. It was the Italian Society of Contraception (Sic) itself that called for caution: “Reducing physical distances does not mean that the risk of contagion from Covid-19 has decreased or disappeared: quite the opposite. Although the transmission of the virus through vaginal secretions or seminal fluid seems to be very remote – in fact, in only two studies has the virus been found in a man’s testicles and in a woman’s vaginal fluid – you still need to be careful and protect yourself “.

Meanwhile, outside the lockdown, the recent chronicles give us stories of small great love tribulations: who knows how the two fiancées of Pavia must have felt fined while, while wearing masks, they embraced each other on the streets of their city. Momentum is not admitted by the current rules against the spread of coronavirus. The young man, in his early twenties, has been sanctioned by a patrol of plainclothes agents: he will have to pay a fine of 400 euros (which can be reduced to 280 if the penalty is paid within 30 days of the issue of the report).

Meanwhile, there are already those who think about phase 3, which would seem to be complicated above all for singles. “The first, decisive and symbolic kiss in intimate contact is really off limits and I believe that coronavirus from the point of view of contagion is worse than AIDS from which you know how to defend yourself. The problem with Covid-19 is that not everything is clear yet: human biological liquids, such as sperm or lubrication, have not been proven to be carriers through which to transmit the bacterium, but it is certainly true and proven that everything related to physical contact must be avoided: kisses, hugs and even the simple handshake that traditionally gives way to new acquaintances and relationships “, the sexologist Marco Rossi explained to AGI.

If AIDS has left fear of sexual intercourse for a long time as a source of transmission, in the case of coronavirus we know that infection can occur even through an unwary proximity: a fear that will be difficult to unhinge. The pandemic has seen the desire of some grow, but has led many others to experience the decline.

On the other hand, Sigmund Freud himself, speaking of the reduction of drives in hypochondriac subjects, was the first to say that libido can change the “goal” in the face of fear of disease: if we detach ourselves from objects and from the outside world, we end up freeing ourselves from sexuality and by desire. In other words, the fear of getting sick can absorb libidinal resources by subtracting them from sexual activity: a risk that should not be underestimated. Especially nowadays.

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