The SexualExperience of Italian Adults during the COVID-19 Lockdown

Pubblicazioni scientifiche e ricerche

The Sexual Experience of Italian Adults during the COVID-19 Lockdown



From March 11 to April 26, 2020, the Italian government imposed a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, a quarantine that resulted in significant restrictions on the movement and social contacts of the population, with a view to limiting the pandemic outbreak. The quarantine forced people to experience distorted social distance in two contrasting ways. For some people, it resulted in social distancing and isolation, for example by separating noncohabiting couples into different dwellings. For others, however, quarantine increased and imposed social closeness, forcing couples and families into constant, daily, and prolonged cohabitation.
The aim of this study was to investigate the sexual health and behaviors of Italian adults during the lockdown period using a multimethod research. An open- and a closed-ended equestionnaire were administered immediately after the end of the lockdown. A total of 465 Italian adults completed the digital questionnaire (female = 78.7%). Participants recognized their lived sexual experience with generally positive characteristics (related to openness, unproblematic relationship with the body, and awareness and self-reflection about one’s sexuality), while negative thoughts such as worry and pain were quite scarce. Participants with a disability (5.6%) showed a marked inversion compared to the mean of respondents, recognizing themselves mainly in negative thoughts related to low self-esteem, inadequacy, and feelings of suffering, yet reporting a higher than mean level of arousal. In the qualitative analysis, the Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF) index was computed to measure the salience of the word used by participants to respond to the open-ended five questions. It revealed a generally depressed emotional experience associated with the experience of lockdown, both in terms of desire, which seemed to be shifted more to the level of imagination and fantasies, and the actual possibility of experiencing sexual activity as usual. Nevertheless, the participants emphasized an opening to new possibilities in terms of expressing sexuality, accompanied by a rediscovery of the value of tenderness and affectivity as well as a clearer awareness of their sexual life, needs, and desires.

Stefano Federici ¹, Alessandro Lepri ¹, Alessandra Castellani Mencarelli ¹, EvelZingone ², Rosella De Leonibus ², Anna Maria Acocella ², and Adriana Giammaria ³

¹ Deparmentof Philosophy, Social & Human Sciences and Education, University of Perugia, Italy
² ExpressiveGestalt PsychotherapyInstitute of Perugia, Perugia, Italy
³ Independent Researcher, Udine, Italy

Redazione IPGE