Did You Forget How to Have Sex During the Pandemic?


That’s exactly how Samantha, a 21-year-old living in North Carolina, feels. “I have not had a normal sex life since Covid happened, so I do feel like I forgot how it is to have a normal sex life and how to just be comfortable again,” she says. “Every time I have sex now it feels new again. I get nervous, and I worry whether I’m doing it right.”

If you took months or even a year off, is it possible that you forget how to have sex? Not really, says Whitney. “I do think that sex is a skill that can be honed,” she says. “If you’re concerned, you can always read a book [about sexuality], you can always listen to a podcast, but sexuality is so innate for us.” 

It’s not like thinking about sex as a talent show is a particularly great framework for excelling at it. “Honestly, I just want to give people permission to show up and see what happens,” says Whitney. “I would just go into the sexual experience feeling like ‘We’re both kind of novices, let’s be bumbling idiots together and have fun re-exploring what sex with an actual other human being feels like.’”

But perhaps some grotesque specter of the collective male gaze has you convinced that not having sex for a while has changed your body, or somehow “re-virginized” you? Oh dear. “There’s no physical consequence of a hiatus from sex,” says Jessica Shepherd, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN. “During sexual stimulation for women, for example, the cervix actually moves up and lengthens the vaginal canal when aroused—regardless of how long it’s been since they’ve had sex last. So if there’s adequate lubrication and mutual feelings of arousal, there certainly shouldn’t be any physical complications from being ‘rusty’ down there unless there may be something else going on.” Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Erica, a 22-year-old living in Ontario, worries about “getting used to a new sex routine.” She’s been vaccinated, and even though she plans to restrict her sex partners to people who are vaccinated too, “it’ll feel weird to get close to someone and vulnerable in their space, also staying over and going to their house.”

It’s a relatable worry. How do you go from shouting, “I SAID WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT?” from the far side of a picnic blanket to waking up to another person’s morning breath flowing directly into your nostrils? “We’ve all been through a collective trauma throughout this past year, and that traumatic experience can keep us from wanting to fully access our bodies,” says Whitney. “We’re just hyper vigilant, and I think that that has made it so people are really disconnected from our bodies.”

It’s going to be emotionally complicated to return to standing near other people, let alone taking your pants off for an audience. You can think of your sex hiatus in one of two ways—One: you’ve had a huge life setback, you’ve missed out on major experiences, you should stay inside and watch Gossip Girl from the beginning to prepare for the reboot. Or, two: You stand on the precipice of innumerable magical connections, physical and emotional, with people you haven’t met yet. At the very least, take Samantha’s advice for easing back into things.

“Ever since COVID happened I decided to get myself a vibrator, which just makes everything better,” she says. “My vibrator is the best thing I’ve ever spent money on.”

Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.


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