TheCity.ie spoke with Emily Power Smith, a prominent Irish sexologist, about dealing with physical isolation during the coronavirus crisis.
As the country continues its partial lockdown and people are forced to live increasingly reclusive lifestyles, having more time on our hands could be an opportunity for self love, says sexologist, Emily Power Smith.
“A benefit of this extra bit of free time is that anyone can learn more expansive ways of pleasuring themselves. Being in isolation or quarantine doesn’t have to affect your sexual activity, it can be done alone instead,” said Smith, in a phone interview with TheCity.ie.
“In fact, it could really do us a lot of good to spend time with ourselves and learn more about how our bodies and arousal cycles work,” she added.
With both mental and physical health issues surrounding the coronavirus crisis remaining sky-high, masturbation could be an outlet for decreasing anxiety and maintaining sexual health.
“Psychologically, we know that sex can lower depressive thoughts and anxiety. It can increase positive thinking and feelings of confidence,” Smith explained.
“Good sex benefits you emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually. Physically it gives us loads of endorphins and sex hormones and chemicals that race around the body during arousal and orgasm. It can lower pain levels and increase pain threshold.
“It’s also really good for men to ejaculate. It keeps the prostate gland in good health. When you get older it can be a problem for men, so ejaculating is something they should be doing for their prostate health,” she added.
With bars and restaurants closed throughout the country and Tinder dates on hold, Smith recommends some online alternatives.
“If you are away from your partner, it may be time to move towards internet stuff; sexting, Facetime, whatever way you want to get off with each other from a distance. That’s the way you’ll have to do it,” she said.
Pornhub made the headlines earlier this month after offering its premium service to Italian users free of charge. However, increased porn use is potentially detrimental to your wellbeing.
“I think there is no harm in watching porn unless it’s something you rely on all the time. However, people have a lot more time on their hands now and shouldn’t overdo it,” she said.
“It’s been shown scientifically that watching loads and loads of porn is not good for you psychologically or physiologically. It’s not good for your relationships and can change the way your body needs dopamine, which is one of the pleasure hormones.
“If you are watching excessive amounts of porn, your body learns to connect arousal to porn and your stimulus becomes based entirely on watching,” she added.
If you decide to watch porn, Smith recommends feminist and ethical porn, where there is a guarantee the actors are well paid and are not coerced into making movies.
In addition, this type of porn is made in a way that removes stigma around body image.
“In feminist and ethical porn, the people are having real orgasms, the people are real, their bodies are real. You won’t be exposed to the stereotypical porn bodies which nobody can live up to in real life.
“If you watch an action movie with The Rock you don’t leave thinking ‘I can never get naked again’. But because we have a lack of education around porn, people really do develop awful inferiority complexes because they think they have to live up to that fantasy, which isn’t realistic.”