Porndemic? A Longitudinal Study of Pornography Use Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Nationally Representative Sample of Americans

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Archives of Sexual Behavior

First page number:


Last page number:



Of the many changes in daily life brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing efforts and governmentally mandated lockdowns were among the most drastic. Coinciding with these changes, popular pornography websites made some previously premium content available for free, spurring dramatic increases in traffic to these websites. This increase in time spent at home and reported increases in traffic to specific pornographic websites led to some speculation that pornography use might generally increase over the course of the pandemic and that problematic use might also increase. To test these speculations and quantify the effects of the pandemic and its associated restrictions on social behaviors on pornography use, we analyzed data from a longitudinal sample of American adults. Baseline, nationally representative data were collected in August 2019 via YouGov (N = 2518). Subsequent data were collected in February 2020 (n = 1677), May 2020 (n = 1533), August 2020 (n = 1470), and October 2020 (n = 1269). Results indicated that, in May 2020, immediately following the height of the first wave of pandemic-related lockdowns, more people reported past-month pornography use than at other follow-up time points, but less did so than at baseline. Among those who reported use in May 2020, only 14% reported increases in use since the start of the pandemic, and their use returned to levels similar to all other users by August 2020. In general, pornography use trended downward over the pandemic, for both men and women. Problematic pornography use trended downward for men and remained low and unchanged in women. Collectively, these results suggest that many fears about pornography use during pandemic-related lockdowns were largely not supported by available data.


Addiction; Compulsive sexual behavior disorder; COVID-19; Problematic pornography use; Sexual media


Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Substance Abuse and Addiction



UNLV article access

Search your library