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Are People Having More or Less Sex During the COVID-19 Pandemic? What Google Trends Suggests

COVID-19 is changing intimacy habits for people across the country.

Social distancing and quarantine regulations have dramatically altered the amount of time most couples spend together.  While some couples are currently kept from seeing one another due to quarantine and isolation precautions, others are now spending 24 hours per day together under the same roof. Even single people are affected. Those currently on the “dating scene” are now navigating the uncharted waters of dating while social distancing.

According to Google Trends, Americans have been searching for at-home date ideas and answers to their sexual health questions throughout the pandemic. This article explores how COVID-19 is impacting sex and intimacy throughout the United States.

In Quarantine & in Health

Smiling couple hugging.

Couples living in quarantine together may experience extremes in terms of feeling appreciative of the additional time together one day, then feeling stressed and in need of space the next. Relationship and sex therapists recommend setting time aside for solo activities, practicing open communication about stress and fears, and dividing chores and errands evenly.

Many are asking if it is still safe to have sex with their live-in partner during COVID-19. It is most likely safe to engage in sex if you and your partner are both healthy, have not had contact with someone known to have COVID-19, and have successfully practiced social distancing when outside the home. Though COVID-19 has been found in saliva and seminal fluid, it is uncertain at this time if the virus is spread sexually.

Here are a few important things to consider before having sex:

  • If your partner is currently feeling unwell or is showing any symptoms of COVID-19, it is best to avoid sexual contact for at least 72 hours after their last fever or 7 days after the onset of their symptoms
  • If your partner has recently had direct contact with someone known to have COVID-19, it is best for him or her to monitor for symptoms and avoid sexual contact for 14 days from the date of contact
  • Do not forget to use contraception, if applicable

Socially Distanced Partners

Partners may be separated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to current living situations, underlying medical conditions that put one partner at greater risk for contracting the virus, or one partner working in a high-risk environment (e.g. hospital or clinical work). Experts recommend that couples not living together refrain from having sex until social distancing precautions are relaxed. Not being able to spend quality time together in-person, or to have sex with a current partner in the near future, has caused distress for many couples.

For those with partners working on the frontlines, the following tips can help to maintain a healthy relationship during COVID-19:

  • Understand that work schedules will temporarily be longer and unpredictable
  • Make time for conversation or activities that do not center on COVID-19
  • Be honest with one another about your feelings and seek mental health support together, if needed
  • Communicate that you are proud of your partner
  • Consider creating a routine of virtual activities to stay connected

Singles & Sexting

Woman lying on her bed looking at her phone.

Singles may be more familiar with initiating dates and flirty banter via mobile apps, but socially distanced couples are now more likely to turn to technology to connect with their partners. Meeting up with a partner currently violates most social distancing ordinances, making the initiation of a new relationship a challenge. If someone has established trust with a new or existing intimate partner, they may wish to engage in sex virtually.

Experts recommend the following tips for maintaining sex and intimacy via technology:

  • Have virtual dates. This could involve video chatting over dinner, ordering takeout from your favorite date night spot, watching a movie or show at the same time, or taking a virtual class together.
  • Sext responsibly. Once you have established trust and boundaries with a partner or potential partner, engage in sexting at your defined comfort level. This may involve sending flirty text messages, sending risqué photos, or engaging in sex via phone or video. Never record sexual encounters or share photos without someone’s consent.
  • Explore new toys. Couples may wish to use remote controlled sex toys with their partner to maintain a sense of physical connection while apart.

Google trends

Google Trends suggest that America’s interest in sex has peaked amidst quarantine and social distancing. For example, once the stay-at-home orders were issued in March, searches for “Viagra” hit a sharp decline, but these searches peaked once again in April and May. The search for “romantic” is also currently trending high, alongside terms like “quarantine date ideas.”

Early April saw a peak in Google searches for “sex and coronavirus.” As people search for answers to questions regarding sex and intimacy during COVID-19, it is important for them to have up-to-date, reliable information at their fingertips. The blog features relevant and timely articles related to sexual health and intimacy.

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