Early in the pandemic, many people speculated that there would be a baby boom next winter. Experts now say that probably won’t happen. Research has shown that baby booms sometimes follow low-severity stressful events that end quickly—like the threat of a tropical storm—because people respond emotionally. But when the trauma is intense and remains high over time—such as after Sept. 11—there’s typically no baby boom. People are too anxious to think much about sex. And they question the wisdom of bringing a baby into the world. In the case of the coronavirus, there are also worries about whether a pregnancy, and baby, would be healthy.
“A state of high threat, characterized by stress or anxiety, is not conducive to having sex,” says Justin Garcia, acting executive director and research director of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Ind. “There’s a reason gazelles don’t mate a few feet in front of a lion.”
There’s another factor at play, too, Dr. Garcia says. Humans have evolved to have a disgust response, an innate tendency to avoid things that have the potential for disease transmission. This is why we’re grossed out by feces or maggots or rotten food. And it’s why we might be turned off by the idea of kissing right now: Our lover could unknowingly harm us.