Woman concerned about increase in libido during pandemic
Updated: Jun 24
Dear Dr. Diana,
This might seem like a crazy question, but I’m baffled about my sex drive. I’m a 57-year-old woman, living with my partner for ten years, and we have settled into a very comfortable and loving relationship. In the beginning, sex with “Carl” was very hot, but that gradually faded to the point where we were having sex once or twice a month. And that was fine for both of us.
However, since the pandemic started, I have found that my libido is increasing. I feel guilty because I frequently talk to my sister in New York City who is married to a healthcare worker, and she tells me how bad it is there. I can tell it’s very stressful on her. But after I hang up the phone, I notice that I start to get sexual urges. I simply want sex more often, and when Carl and I do hop in the sack together my orgasms are incredibly intense.
I’m not really complaining (nor is Carl!), but I’m starting to get worried that something might be wrong. It’s not normal for a woman at my stage of life (post-menopausal) to suddenly become so horny, is it? What do you think is going on with me?
—Should I Be Worried?
Dear Should I Be Worried,
No, I don’t think you should be worried. The response you’re having is called “post-disaster sex.” When we experience a collective tragedy or trauma, our defenses get scrambled. Feelings of fear and apprehension can stir up adrenaline in our bodies, which prepares us for the fight-or-flight response. With something like this pandemic, there ordinarily is no chance to fight or flee, so instead the adrenaline might stir up sexual excitement.
There were reports that right after 9-11 some people experienced the same kind of “end-of-the-world” sex, which they said helped them cope with the terrifying feelings of loss. A similar dynamic is at play when a couple has hot “make-up sex” after an intense fight due to the strong hormonal rush stirred up by anger.
I suspect that many couples are experiencing some form of “pandemic sex” these days. This real life-and-death situation unfolding around us is a reminder of our own mortality. This can intensify the pleasure of sex—which makes us feel alive! You and Carl could also use your newfound interest in sex as a springboard for deeper conversations about what is really important to each of you. I encourage you to look for the transcendent meanings in your new experiences together.