UCL, the University of Glasgow and the National Centre of Social Research conducted a study to find out the effect lockdown had on the sexual activities of people. According to the poll of 6,654 people aged 18 to 59, 53 per cent of the participants engaged in virtual sexual activities such as sexting or watching porn during the first lockdown. People turned to virtual sex because of a lack of opportunities for actual contact during the initial lockout.
According to one of the study's primary scientists, the increase in virtual intercourse may have been beneficial to sexual health. Professor Kristin Mercer believes:
Whilst a lack of physical interaction with a partner may have a detrimental impact on sexual satisfaction and people's well-being, it may also bring public health benefits such as a decline in the transmission of sexually transmitted infections.
Young people had less sex
Participants were asked diverse questions on their sexual behaviour during the first lockdown. The researchers discovered that people aged 18-24 were more likely to report a shift in sexual frequency. 66 per cent of sexually experienced young people claimed their sexual activity decreased. Soazif Clifton, the joint co-first author, comments:
Young people were more likely to report having sex less often and being less satisfied with their sex lives than they had been before lockdown started.
This is likely to be at least, in part, because young people are less likely to be living with partners and were unable to meet sexual partners when restrictions were in place.
Watching porn was the leading source of people who claimed they engaged in some type of virtual sexual behaviour. 64 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women said they saw sexually explicit content.
Will a rebound take place?
It is uncertain if the drastic changes in sexual behaviour will shift into something long-term or, people will find a rebound way to make up for the lost time. Overall, 63 per cent of adults reported they had sex with someone after the lockdown began, with 76 per cent of those people claiming to be in cohabiting relationships.
When asked how often they engaged in sexual activities, 57 per cent of adults who had partnered sex claimed that there was no difference in the frequency. The number of times they had sex with a partner had not changed in the three months before lockdown. While participants who lived with their spouse continued to have sex, for those who didn't live with a partner, COVID-19 restrictions were particularly damaging for them.