Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic two years ago, there have been many seismic shifts in the way we approach our health. Even for people who were fortunate enough to avoid catching a severe dose of the virus, intimate relationships have suffered from the effects of successive lockdowns, both for single people and couples.

Studies show that the world over, sexual activity declined during the pandemic, the BBC reports. For singles, the reality was that it was impossible to meet new people unless you were prepared to risk breaking rules, and picking up or spreading the virus yourself.

For couples, the initial novelty of being cooped up together for the majority of the time soon wore off and was replaced with overfamiliarity, and worries about health, work, family, and money.

Rhonda Balzarini, a social psychologist and assistant professor at Texas State University, US, described the pattern of sexual behaviour during Covid as follows: “During [the initial] phase, people tend to work together. It might be when you’re going to your neighbour’s house and giving them toilet paper on the doorstep when they need it.”

He adds: “But then over time, as resources become more scarce, people become more stressed and the energy wears off, disillusionment and depression tend to set in. When that starts to happen is when we might be starting to see couples get in trouble.”

For those who caught the virus, the effects on their sex life have been even more serious, particularly for men. National Geographic explains that men may be up to six times more likely to suffer from sexual dysfunction after contracting Covid. At first, sexual problems in post-virus patients were put down to stress.

However, a pattern began to emerge, and South Florida urologist Ranjith Ramasamy decided to investigate further. Among the ways that long Covid can harm the body, ongoing erectile dysfunction (ED), including damage to the testes, inability to have or maintain an erection, and inability to achieve orgasm were among the symptoms.

It was found that while ED normally affects older men with other conditions such as hypertension or diabetes when long Covid was present, much younger men with no previous health problems were reporting sexual health issues.

Doctors believe that impaired blood cells are the culprit for causing ED in long Covid patients. Emmanuele A. Jannini, professor of endocrinology and medical sexology at Italy’s

University of Rome Tor Vergata, explained: “Without enough blood, cells are oxygen-deprived, tissues become inflamed, and vessels lose elasticity,” adding: “No oxygen, no sex”.

Combined with the psychological stress of being ill and the wider effects of the pandemic, for some men, sex has been knocked off the menu. While the true long-term effects of Covid are yet to be revealed, and not all the treatments are available, there are steps you can take if you think that these issues are affecting you.

Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. You may benefit from chatting with a pharmacist, who can advise you whether it would help to buy sildenafil online, which is a medication designed to enhance male sexual performance.