When issues of life and death emerge, there is a wish to procreate

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War, air alarms, stress, separation, uncertainty, and life-threatening events can lead to relationship problems. We asked psychologists, gynecologists, and sexologists how the war affects sexual health.

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There is a lack of emotions

Lviv resident Zoryana and her children, aged 5 and 7, went to visit relatives in Poland in early March. Constant air alarms, information about a possible attack, and explosions frightened children. The man, of course, stayed here at home.

According to her, most of all, they lack personal communication with her husband. «We only solve problems over the phone. But there is a great lack of emotions,» – she added.

Zoryana and her children have come to Lviv four times so that the separation would not be so long.

«In Poland, we temporarily live in the town of Legnica, a hundred kilometers from Berlin, Germany. To come to Lviv, we spend a whole day. But that doesn’t stop us,» – she said.

In Poland, they have a place to live, they have arranged their life, the children go to kindergarten and school, but the house is better, so the family will be reunited soon.

«The fact that the family can’t see each other for a while doesn’t affect our relationship. Yes, we miss each other, children often cry and want to go to dad, but we understand that everything is temporary, and soon we will all be together again,» – she added.

We have a big crisis

The war has jeopardized some relationships, but when it comes to life and death, people are increasingly thinking about procreation.

«Right now we have a very big crisis because of the war. Numerous couples will still be at risk, as they have more reasons to break up rather than stay together. But this is the case with any crisis, for example, with the coronavirus, the number of divorces has also increased. As for the birth rate, it is difficult to say whether it will fall or not.

When the question of life and death arises, people do not forget about birth. People are more likely to think that they want to procreate. No wonder the term «children of war» exists. That’s why many couples who doubted whether they had children are now sure about it,» – said Mariana Franco, a psychologist and founder of the «Sense psychological studio».

According to her, during the First and Second World Wars, the couple also coped with separation. However, then people corresponded more, that is, differently maintained relationships at a distance.

In photo: Postcard of the Ukrainian artist, head of the art department of the Press Apartment of the Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen Osyp Kurylas

Now, even if someone has gone alone – a husband to war or a wife abroad – Mariana Franco advises not to lose touch, to support it, then its value will grow especially.

«When partners start to show ignorance, coldness, it can lead to difficulties. A person can start to replace this relationship with something or someone else – men often have problems with alcohol, and women – with depression».

According to psychologist Mariana Franco, couples should do daily rituals – it can be a phone call, or a small message. Even better is video communication, which adds to the effect of presence. If you do it regularly, every day, the psyche will symbolically react, giving the feeling that you are not alone.

«We all need to learn to talk about sexuality. It adds life, more color, comfort and security. After all, sexuality is not only procreation but also a certain communication between people. That’s why we need to communicate, talk and correspond more,» – she said.

According to Mariana Franco, difficulties in relationships often arise because one of the spouses may think that the others are fighting, suffering, and we are enjoying ourselves here. Marriage also affects news.

Of course, at the beginning of a full-scale war under acute stress, sexuality receded into the background. Especially after the news from Bucha, Gostomel, where there was a lot of talk about Russian atrocities and rape. In fact, the news of the rape had a negative effect on women who refused to have sex because of it.

Now that everyone has reached the stage of chronic stress, adapted a little, and realized that life goes on, people again began to think more about intimacy, and the satisfaction of their desires and needs.

The war deprived 23-year-old Oksana Balandina from Lysychansk of her ability to walk, but did not deprive her of the courage and strength to live in her own country, to marry her beloved husband, with whom she is already raising two children.

Mariupol defender Oleksandr Pikul and his fiancée Tetiana got married in Truskavets. The soldier was taken from the front to the hospital in Truskavets for treatment.

Stress and sexual desire

Negative information due to the war, stress, and against this background, the lack of sexual life in couples, when a woman went abroad and her husband stayed here, or a man went to war and a woman stayed at home, can lead to hormonal disorders, says sexologist, andrologist Lviv Regional Perinatal Center Vasyl Cherepanyn.

«Due to constant stress, anxiety, as well as lack of sexual life, men and women may experience hormonal failure. Women may get problems with menstruation, and men – with erections. Also, those men who are at war may experience stagnation and inflammation. Inflammation can be connected with temperature changes (overheating or hypothermia), long stays in dugouts and trenches. Against the background of lack of sexual life and hygiene, problems can become more complicated,» – says the doctor.

According to the head of the consultative and diagnostic department of the Lviv Regional Perinatal Center Olena Svishcho, doctors are already noticing a slow decline in the birth rate. The war may exacerbate this problem. The doctor says that every year more and more couples with infertility appear, where both the female and male factors are present. But it has not been long before we can draw accurate conclusions.

According to Vasyl Cherepanyn, problems in relationships can arise not only in those couples who were separated by the war, but also in those who have not gone anywhere and live together. Partners can say one to another: «what sex life when there is war in the country», «come on later, now there will be an air alarm», «I don’t have time for this now».

«When all the thoughts of a man or a woman have focused only on news, negative information, couples may have reduced or no sexual desire. Therefore, all of the above affects the quality of intimate family life and fertility. In 6-7 months we will see its fall,» – says Vasyl Cherepanyn.

According to the sexologist, in addition to the fact that couples are separated by war, many of them postpone a planned pregnancy. Among the reasons are anxiety about the war, and uncertainty. People are more likely to wonder where they will be tomorrow, and whether there will be financial stability in the future.

«About 20% of couples who had certain complications and were already in the infertility treatment program have suspended their treatment since the beginning of the full-scale war. They say that because the treatment is long, they will not take the medication at the moment. They argue simply: because this is such a time. At the same time, the problems are not in finances, but, in fact, uncertainty and instability. Men think: what if tomorrow my wife gets pregnant, and I am taken to war and die. Women are thinking about how they will cope with pregnancy and childbirth, whether they will be able to endure such a difficult time, whether they will not be threatened,»- adds the doctor.

But there are cases when the war provokes hyperactivity in sexual relations. This way, a small percentage of couples still want to leave offspring and try to get pregnant and give birth.

«Rarely, but hypersexuality can occur when a man knows that he may soon be called. And this is a kind of self-realization «in reserve», – the doctor added.

Don’t stop dreaming and planning, even in times of war

In general, there are two types of stress – acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term). At the beginning of the war, most of them were under acute stress. People could not sleep, or eat, most did everything on instinct. Some have already become accustomed to it and still do.

Nadiya Bartnovska, a psychologist at the Lviv Perinatal Center’s Women’s Counseling Department, says that only a planned pregnancy will decrease during the war, but an unplanned one should not. «Sex is a natural attraction, so even in a state of war, if couples live together, not divorced, sex should not be reduced,» – says the psychologist.

Therefore, doctors advise being positive, advice to plan and dream even during the war.

«There are many cases when couples suddenly decide to get married, even if two or one soon goes to war. People think that they will have a family, housing, children, and a common future, and it doesn’t matter when they meet. Even a forced break in a relationship, if the couple has discussed it, will not hurt. Sooner or later, these events will end... «, – says the doctor.

Experts emphasize that regular sexual intercourse stabilizes the situation in the family, and gives confidence in the partner. A woman feels a strong shoulder, a man – a certainty that there is someone to protect.

Couples who are divorced by war should develop verbal sensitivity and engage the imagination, and practice various meetings. This can be both offline, for example, arranging various weekends (the wife can come from abroad on weekends), and online (talking on the phone or via video). You can also exchange erotic messages, have sex on the phone, and masturbate. This is normal practice for couples who are currently divorced.

Tips on how to return to normal and establish a family life:

  • Less watching TV, flipping through telegram channels and reading the news.
  • Do not focus only on the topic of war.
  • Spend more time with each other.
  • Perform actions aimed at a sense of security, as well as manifestations of intimacy with a partner – open conversations. hugs, romantic acts, anything that gives pleasant and joyful emotions.
  • If the couple is planning to have children, it is worth discussing together whether to postpone it or not, weighing the pros and cons.
  • Eat right.
  • Dose exercise.
  • Dream and be positive.
  • Talk to your partner about how you feel.
  • Any reaction to current events is normal. From an increasing desire to its complete absence. Foremost, respect the right to have exactly the reaction you have. Because respect for yourself and your partner is most important in sexual relationships.

By Olha Shveda, translated by Kateryna Bortniak

Photo from the Facebook page of Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukr.media website

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.


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