Arch Sex Behav. 2022 Nov 14. doi: 10.1007/s10508-022-02459-5. Online ahead of print.
To understand how household context factors impacted self-reported changes in solo and sexual behaviors in U.S. adults during early stages of the COVID- 19 pandemic, we conducted an online, nationally representative, cross-sectional survey of U.S. adults (N = 1010; aged 18-94 years; 62% response rate) from April 10-20, 2020. We used weighted descriptive statistics with Wilcoxon rank sign tests to understand the population prevalence and significance of self-reported changes (five-point scale: much less to much more) in 10 solo and partnered sexual behaviors. Ordinal regression was used to assess the impact of household predictor variables-including number of children at home, number of adults in home, partnership status (unpartnered, partnered and not living together, partnered and living together) and employment status (not working, employed not as essential worker, employed as essential worker). All models were adjusted for gender, age, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, and residence location (urban, suburban, rural).All solo and partnered sexual behaviors showed some amount of significant change-increased activity for some and decreased for others-for U.S. adults during the pandemic. Not living with a partner was broadly associated with decreased affectionate partnered sexual behaviors; unpartnered adults reported increased sexting. Individuals not employed reported increased oral sex and increased consumption of sexually explicit materials as compared to non-essential workers. Number of children at home and household size were not significantly linked to self-reported behavior change. Ongoing sexual health-focused research should continue to focus on understanding how adults manage opportunities and constraints to their sexual lives in the context of a still-going pandemic. While many aspects of social life look more “normal” (e.g., many people have returned to their in-person offices and children are largely back in school), new and more-infectious strains of COVID-19 have proven that the pandemic may still yet impact daily living. Lessons learned from COVID need to include sexual health planning both for any future strains of COVID, as well as for future public health emergencies.