Coronavirus and sex: Will Israel experience a baby-boom in nine months?

People stay in-doors during the crisis, does this mean they will have more sex?

Sex [Illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Sex [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Last month, as the coronavirus crisis began to hit New York hard and the city braced for a lockdown, the city’s Department of Health published very detailed – and explicit – guidelines on safe sexual behavior. The document included a recommendation to wash hands as well as sex toys for at least 20 seconds both for the purpose of masturbation and sexual encounters with other people, as well as avoiding kissing and any other form of physical relationship with anyone outside someone’s own household.
The question of how the outbreak and the lockdowns are affecting people’s intimacy has been dealt with from many points of view, prompting some to suggest that couples stuck at home are likely to be having more sex and therefore a baby-boom is to be expected in about nine months from now. However, experts advise caution.
“I think the questions boils down to the quality of emotional life and relationship of every couple above and beyond what is going on physically,” sex therapist and chairman of the Sex Therapy Training Program at Bar Ilan University David Ribner told The Jerusalem Post. “The second issue is what was the quality of their sexual relation before all of this was happening.”
Ribner pointed out that the questions that sex counselors and therapists are receiving cover a very wide spectrum, from people saying that they are too tired or stressed to contemplate any kind or physical relation, to people who are looking for more intimacy.
“For relationships were there has not been a successful intimate life, physical or emotional, this can be a very high-stressed situation, particularly when one partner has more desire than the other partner,” he added. “Even more extreme situations are those where in the past there have been episodes of abuse which now can become even more abusive because there is not really any way out.”
The therapist said that as the time passes and people get used to the lockdown, there is a good chance that couples will go back to their normal routine.
“Of course, it can be hard for parents of children to find some privacy. We encourage them to tell their children that they need some time for themselves,” he pointed out.
“We are all in new territory though; we have never been in this place before, so we will need to wait and see what happens,” he said.
However, Ribner said that he would be very surprised to see an increase in the number of babies born, considering that nowadays people look at the issue of conceiving with awareness, including the use of birth control.
“I think that people will just continue doing what they were doing before,” he said.
ONE OF the issues that has emerged since the beginning of the outbreak is a significant increase in the consumption of pornography. The portal PornHub stated that since mid-March it has registered an increase in traffic of between 4% and 25% worldwide. Similar data have been registered for the United States, while Israel is not among the countries whose specific numbers are listed in the statistical section of the portal.
“I think that in this situation, people might use pornography not so much for the purpose of sexual arousal but more to achieve a sense of escape, to project themselves into a fantasy,” Ribner told the Post.
“I would add that in Israel, one of the issues for the religious community is the question of whether it is safe of not to go to the mikveh [ritual bath], which surely has an impact for a couple’s physical intimacy, for both partners,” he concluded.
Painting a multifaceted picture of the situation was also Chana Boteach, who runs the store Kosher Sex in central Tel Aviv, which focuses on promoting intimacy for couples within the realm of Jewish values. As required by the lockdown, the store is closed. However, Kosher Sex products are still sold online in the United States and shipped internationally.
“I think we are currently seeing the full spectrum of what happens in life coming under the microscope. On the one hand, we are seeing people using this opportunity to connect to their partners, which is inspiring. On the other hand, we also see an increase in domestic violence,” she told the Post.
Boteach, whose father “Rabbi Shmuley” penned the bestselling book Kosher Sex around twenty years ago, said that they are registering a spike in sales of around 40%, especially for America and Israel.
“It is nice to see that the most popular products are couple products, such as vibrators. Also lubricants are doing really well,” she said.
“What we are trying to do is to make sure that this is a time that people use to bond with their partners and deepen the connection, having more exciting sex, and getting to know each other better – which can be hard, especially stuck at home with children,” she concluded. “This is one of the first times that people are not really having casual sex because it is much harder, so kosher sex, or using sex for intimacy, is really the only kind you can have.”