The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted dramatic changes in social behaviors, with lock-downs, social distancing, and quarantine restrictions occurring around the globe. These changes have influenced sexual relationships and activities. Some people have changed their pornography viewing habits, although research in this area is ongoing as the pandemic continues.
In November 2020, the International Journal of Impotence Research published a study of pornography-related Google search trends in six countries: China, Italy, Spain, France, Sweden, and the United States. The researchers examined data collected from January 9, 2020 to May 25, 2020.
They found that in countries with “straight ‘stay at home’ orders (China, Italy, Spain, and France),” pornography use increased. However, this trend was not seen in Sweden or the United States, where safety protocols were not as restrictive, the authors said.
It should be noted that some pornography outlets, such as Pornhub, offered free access to its content to people in lock-down areas. This additional access could have influenced pornography use frequency.
However, as an April 2020 study in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions pointed out, some areas that did not receive free access also experienced increases in porn consumption.
Proposed reasons for changes in pornography use vary.
Experts have been concerned that more porn consumption might lead to more problematic pornography use, which can lead to problems in work, family, and social relationships.
Pornography use has changed in other ways during the pandemic, as COVID-related content has become more popular.
Researchers report that pornography consumers have used more pandemic-related website search terms, such as coronavirus and COVID. Videos portraying participants wearing masks, gloves, and protective gear have become more popular. According to researchers, such content may be appealing for its novelty, and pandemic-related fear may boost sexual arousal.