Lockdown led to changes in sexual desire and behaviors among UK young adults

Lockdown led to changes in sexual desire and behaviors among UK young adults

The research conducted in 2020 to 565 British young adults aged between 18 and 32 showed that there have been changes in their sexual desire and behaviors due to the most social restrictions imposed to deal with COVID-19.

By Dan Christian Habinshuti

 The World Health Organization (2020) declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a public health emergency of international concern in January 2020, before announcing a global pandemic in March 2020. 

These announcements helped in the implementation of national global procedures to fight and reduce the spread of the pandemic. The widely most common measure was physical distancing and limitations placed on people’s social contacts. 


On 16th March 2020 UK entered lockdown and a steep rise in cases of COVID-19 following the previous weeks, lockdown laws allowed only a few physical interactions like between members of one household, to let leaving the home only for essential trips or no more than 1-hour exercise (sports), and to keep a two-meter distance away from others who are not from one household (UK Government, 2020). Only important shops could open, with schools and places for social and community activity closed. More important workers continued to work as usual while others worked from home and some others lost their jobs.


Until 13th May 2020 lockdown lasted when limitations slowly eased, but physical distancing was still there, a second one-month lockdown was introduced in November 2020 with somewhat looser restrictions, such as schools remaining open. A third lockdown was introduced in December 2020 with a roadmap out of lockdown from March 8th, 2020.


 In the Journal of Sexual Research, Dr. Jeffrey Arnett said that young adults have received less attention about COVID-19, yet face many changeovers and worries related to education, employment, housing, and social and romantic relationships,” and these can be stressful for young adults than older adults”. Park and other researchers added.


After the survey, when examining whether the level of sexual desire increased or decreased during the lockdown, compared to a pre-lockdown standard, and whether such changes interacted with gender and the living conditions of individuals, men testified high sexual desire compared to women both before and during the lockdown. Women showed a momentous reduction in levels of sexual desire overall during lockdown and men showed a similar trend which did not reach significance. Living status had no visible effects on sexual desire levels either pre-or during the lockdown and did not relate with gender.


When it came to sexual behaviors list the result of the research taken to participants were presented with a list of some sexual behaviors (solo/mutual masturbation; sexual intercourse with a partner/non-partner; sent nude pictures to a partner/non-partner; and the role played with a partner /non-partner) and when participants were asked to select whether they had engaged in the any of the behavior (a) before lockdown and (b) during the lockdown, through marking a checkbox. If the participant answered affirmatively to both options, they were encouraged to indicate whether they had engaged in the checkbox. For this study, this set of questions has been categorized as the sexual behaviors list.