Since the beginning of lockdown orders and social distancing mandates, many media outlets have come to the same conclusion: that isolating people are unfathomably horny. But I’m skeptical of this narrative—surely many people feel debilitated by the stress and uncertainty of a global health crisis and don’t really feel ready to pounce on their partner (or as gender essentialist Gwyneth Paltrow said, “the female body when put under stress goes into survival mode,” meaning women don’t want to have sex.) For singles, I could see some merit to wanting to do it since they cannot currently do it, and the heart wants what it can’t have. Or maybe they, too, are giving into the weight of the world instead of their hormones. Universally-felt depression will do that to you. At any rate, the effects of not boning are being felt economically: According to The Guardian, condom sales are way down during the covid-19 pandemic.
Laxman Narasimhan, chief executive of the company Reckitt Benckiser, which owns Durex condoms, said the brand is suffering from a lack of people boning. “What you see is this virus is having a toll on the number of intimate occasions in the UK,” he explained, due to stay-at-home ordinances, increased anxiety between couples, and the fact that some, lesser established couples may not be isolating together. That all makes good sense, but leads to another issue: If condom production decreases due to an indefinite quarantine, there could be serious health consequences. A United Nations spokesperson told The Guardian, “A shortage of condoms, or any contraceptive, could lead to an increase in unintended pregnancies, with potentially devastating health and social consequences for adolescent girls, women and their partners and families.”
Last month, Reuters reported that a condom shortage is inevitable: Malaysia’s Karex Bhd, the largest manufacturer of condoms in the world, shut down due to a government-imposed lockdown. After just one week, that meant a shortfall of 100 million condoms, which could spell devastation for humanitarian efforts. If only sexual health was considered an essential business, right?