Many Dutch singles haven’t had sex since the start of the lockdown and 1.5-meter social distancing. This is the case for half of single young men and women, and for one-third of the single men. Among all singles, 1 in 5 has had sex with a partner during the corona period, but this is now usually someone they have sex with more often (a sex buddy) than a one-night stand. Rutgers and SOA Aids Nederland investigated the influence of the COVID pandemic and measures on the sexual health of Dutch adolescents and adults, and access to sexual healthcare.
No sex since corona for many singles
To minimize the risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus, the main advice in the Netherlands is to only have sex with a steady partner who lives in your household. Many singles abide by this advice by refraining from having sex: about half of the single young people aged 16-20 who did have sex before corona have not had sex since the start of the pandemic. Among adult singles who had sex before the corona outbreak, a third of men and half of women have not had sex since corona. In addition, 18-24-year-old singles are clearly less satisfied with their sex life than they were before the corona crisis. However, young cohabitants aged 18-24 have had sex slightly more often since corona. Moreover, they are slightly more satisfied with their sex life than before the corona crisis.
Singles who do have sex
The 1.5-metre measures still apply in the Netherlands, and singles sometimes find it difficult to give up physical contact and sex for so long. In that case, Rutgers advises you to have sex with someone you have known for a long time and with whom you make good arrangements about who else you see. It seems that singles take this advice to heart. One in five singles did have sex during the corona crisis, but compared to the period before the corona crisis, the last partner for these singles was less often a one-night stand and more often someone with whom they had sex more often (a sex buddy). This was the case for 58% of both younger and adult singles.
Masturbation, porn and dating
The research also shows that many people now show different dating and sexual behaviour. Especially young people, both girls and boys, engage more in solo sex and watch more porn.
Of young people, 40% indicate that they date less than before. Among both younger and adult singles, dating apps are used more often since the coronavirus outbreak. A date now takes place more often in a park or woods than in a bar or restaurant.
STI testing and contraception
It is more difficult for people to go to the Municipal Health Service (GGD) or general practitioner (GP) for an STI test or contraception consultation. Eight percent of young people wanted to be tested for an STI during the corona crisis but did not do so. For 47% this had to do with corona: they thought that healthcare professionals were too busy (31%), because they were afraid of contracting corona (11%) or because the STI clinic was closed or had no room (15%).
Also, not all women who needed a new or different contraception method during the corona crisis went to their GP, GGD or hospital for a contraceptive consultation. For 9% of the young women aged 16 to 20, this was for corona-related reasons. They did not want to be an inconvenience (5%), were afraid of infection (1%), or the general practitioner/GGD/hospital temporarily did not offer this care (3%).
These results were acquired through two studies:
Research among a panel of 1,506 participants aged 18-50. This research was conducted between 3 and 25 May 2020.
Research among 5,218 young people aged 16-20 who were asked to participate online via social media. This research was conducted between 20 May and 1 June 2020.
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