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The COVID-19 pandemic had numerous consequences for general, mental and sexual health. As gender differences in sexual compulsivity (SC) have been reported in the past and SC has been connected to adverse events and psychological distress, the current study aims at investigating associations between these factors in the context of contact restrictions in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany.
We collected data for five time points in four retrospective measurement points in an online convenience sample (n T0 = 399, n T4 = 77). We investigated the influence of gender, several pandemic-related psychosocial circumstances, sensation seeking (Brief Sensation Seeking Scale), and psychological distress (Patient-Health-Questionnaire-4) on the change of SC (measured with an adapted version of the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale) between T0 and T1 (n = 292) in a linear regression analysis. Additionally, the course of SC over the time of the pandemic was explored with a linear mixed model.
Male gender was associated with higher SC compared to female gender over all measurement points. An older age, being in a relationship, having a place to retreat was associated with a change to lower SC during the first time of the pandemic. Psychological distress was associated with SC in men, but not in women. Men, who reported an increase of psychological distress were also more likely to report an increase of SC.
The results demonstrate that psychological distress seems to correlate with SC differently for men and women. This could be due to different excitatory and inhibitory influences on men and women during the pandemic. Furthermore, the results demonstrate the impact of pandemic related psychosocial circumstances in the times of contact restrictions.
Background and aims
The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence and correlates of indicators consistent with Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD)—defined and operationalized according to the ICD-11 guidelines—in a large (n = 4,633; 50.5% male; 49,5% female) probability-based German national sample.
Participants were asked if they had ever experienced “intense and recurring sexual impulses or sexual urges that I had difficulty controlling and resulted in sexual behavior” over a period of several months. Those who reported this experience were queried about the associated distress.
Overall, 4.9% of men [95% CI = 3.9–6.1] and 3.0% of women [95% CI = 2.3–3.9] reported experiences consistent with ICD-11 diagnostic requirements for lifetime diagnosis. In the 12 months preceding the study, 3.2% of men [95% CI = 2.4–4.2] and 1.8% of women [95% CI = 1.2–2.5] reported experiences consistent with CSBD requirements. Compared to controls and participants who reported elements of compulsive sexuality but without accompanying distress, strict religious upbringing was most prevalent in the CSBD group. The CSBD group was more likely to view sexual practices like men having sex with men as unacceptable and to report the belief that pornography has negative impacts on their sex life and life in general. Compared to the other two groups, the CSBD group was significantly more likely to have received psychiatric treatment for depression or another mental health problem during the past 12 months.
Discussion and conclusions
The current study provides novel and important insights into the prevalence and characteristics of CSBD in the general population.