How Lockdown Has Changed Britons' Sex Lives

Huge spike in Viagra demand shows pent-up Brits are eager to get some

Published: Thursday 23 July 2020


lockdown and sex lives

When the UK government announced emergency measures on 23 March 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19, Britain entered into an unprecedented period in which their social freedoms were restricted to extents not seen since the Second World War. ‘Lockdown’, as the measures came to be known, placed extraordinary constraints on the ability of Brits to socialise, see their loved ones, enjoy their favourite pastimes and pursue intimate relationships.

In the months since lockdown was announced, stories exploring how Britons’ lives have changed have become commonplace across UK media. From families going months without seeing one another, to sports events taking place in empty arenas, in just a few months the coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way we live almost out of recognition. And, as data compiled by Pharmica shows, that transformation has even managed to reach the privacy of Britain’s bedrooms.

Using sales figures of erectile dysfunction medication spanning the entirety of lockdown[*], Pharmica has pieced together how the initial measures and subsequent government announcements have impacted the sex lives of people across the UK. Between the introduction of the measures in March, and the easing of restrictions in June, demand for ED drugs has fluctuated greatly with major changes to the government guidelines. Lockdown has demonstrated beyond all doubt the capacity of government policy to change peoples’ lives - and the data on ED medication sales over the past four months reflects this with startling clarity.

In the opening days of lockdown, Britain was rocked by fears of goods shortages and uncertainty surrounding what had rapidly become a global crisis. While broadcast news outlets filmed empty supermarket shelves where bread and toilet roll used to sit, Brits were quietly stocking up on another precious good: Viagra. A week after lockdown was announced, demand for the little blue pill jumped a whopping 60% - driven by Brits who didn’t want to miss out, and who knew they were about to spend more and more time at home.

Viagra Sales Per Week (% Change)

While millions of workers had to adapt to working from home as a result of the pandemic, millions more were taken out of work altogether. Countless businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors, unable to operate due to the measures, closed up shop and put their employees on the government’s Job Retention Scheme. The initiative, otherwise known as “furlough”, rapidly became the biggest government wage subsidy in the UK’s history. But Britain’s baristas, bartenders and shop floor superstars suddenly found themselves with far more time on their hands. Baking, yoga, and language-learning are all among the biggest lockdown hobbies according to Google Trends[1]. But demand for ED drugs has hovered 14% higher during lockdown than in the months before the measures were introduced - suggesting sourdough isn’t the only thing Brits have been going at while stuck at home.

Although live-in couples may have managed to enjoy more time in the bedroom over the past few months, singles who lived alone were prevented from pursuing intimate relationships. At lockdown’s strictest, single people across the country increasingly turned to sexting as a way to entertain themselves during their legally-enforced dry spells[2]. But these digital-only arrangements were little substitute for the real thing. When the government announced its ‘Support Bubble’ legislation on 13 June - allowing people in England to visit and stay overnight in up to two other households - pent-up people across the country took full advantage. In the week after restrictions were eased, Viagra demand at Pharmica rocketed 71%, and ED meds across the board by 36%.

Regional Sales the Week After 'Support Bubble' Announced (% Change)

The ‘Support Bubble’ spike in Viagra demand was particularly acute in England’s major cities. In London and Manchester, sales increased by more than 90%. In Birmingham demand was yet higher, soaring 112%. The prize for England’s Raunchiest City, however, went to Leeds, where Viagra demand shot up 233% in response to the legislation.

The dramatic spikes in demand reflect a nation of people whose lives have been hugely affected by the global health crisis - and who are eager to once again enjoy the social freedoms many may have previously taken for granted. Amid recent reports of local lockdowns and the risk of a second wave later in the year, coronavirus continues to leave the UK mired in uncertainty. Amid an unsure future, however, on one thing the data is clear on: us Brits will always make the best of a bad situation.


Lockdown/Viagra Demand Timeline

*No patient data has been shared. All data has been anonymised for patient confidentiality.

Harry Walker

Authored by Harry Walker

Patient Care Specialist


After graduating with a degree in Journalism at City, University of London, Harry joined the Pharmica team as a Patient Care Specialist and content writer.

In addition to helping in the dispensary, Harry consults with our in-house pharmacists to produce engaging, informative and expert content for our patients.

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