Published: 27 May 2020 at 08:42
Research indicates only 40% of UK adults have had sex at least once a week
New research indicates that only four in 10 UK adults have been sexually active during the COVID-19 lockdown – a finding that could have important physical and mental health implications.
The study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine and led by Dr Lee Smith of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and Professor Mark Tully of Ulster University, is the first to investigate levels of sexual activity during social distancing and self-isolation.
Only 39.9% of the 868 British adults surveyed for the research had taken part in any form of sexual activity during the previous seven days. The study found that being younger, male, married and a consumer of alcohol was associated with greater sexual activity.
Previous research has shown an association between sexual activity and physical health, including helping to protect older adults against cardiovascular events. Frequent sexual activity has also been associated with various mental health benefits and improved cognitive function.
The findings of this new study suggest that the UK Government’s public health messaging around COVID-19 self-isolation and social distancing could include promoting sexual activity as a way of maintaining physical and mental health.
Dr Lee Smith, Reader in Physical Activity and Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said:
We've responded to the coronavirus pandemic by leading research projects into health, wellbeing and interventions. Read more about the work of our Covid-19 Research Group.
Reader in Physical Activity and Public Health at ARU, Dr Lee Smith, has been leading research on COVID-19's impact on behaviour and mental health. Read more about Dr Smith's COVID-19 and wellbeing research group.