COVID-19 and Female Sexual Health: Understanding the Impact and Path to Wellness

March 2024

As a physician deeply involved in sexual health optimization and improvement, I’ve recently delved into intriguing research findings presented and summarized by ISSM University regarding the potential impact of COVID-19 on female sexual function. This exploration is particularly close to my heart, given the numerous patients I encounter who are navigating their sexual health in these trying times.

Since June 2023, we’ve observed the diverse implications of COVID-19, not just on our physical health but also on the psychosocial and indirect effects stemming from necessary public health measures like social distancing. While there’s a growing body of research concerning COVID-19’s impact on male sexual health, the conversation around its effects on women has been comparatively muted.

Initial studies hint at a troubling trend: the COVID-19 pandemic may be adversely affecting women’s sexual function, potentially due to heightened levels of anxiety and depression. Another layer of complexity is added by long COVID—a condition marked by lingering COVID-19 symptoms—that could further compromise sexual well-being.

To shed light on this underexplored area, a recent study conducted an online survey with 2,329 cisgender women. The participants, split between those who had and hadn’t contracted COVID-19, shared insights into their sexual function alongside their mental health status, including experiences with long COVID symptoms.

The findings were telling. Women who battled COVID-19, particularly those grappling with long COVID, reported more pronounced struggles with sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and overall satisfaction. This group also showed a higher likelihood of meeting the criteria for sexual dysfunction compared to their counterparts who hadn’t contracted the virus.

Interestingly, while depression and anxiety were initially suspected to play significant roles in these sexual health disparities, the study suggested a more intricate web of factors at play. Notably, issues like arousal difficulties, lubrication challenges, and pain during sex were more prevalent among women with long COVID, hinting at potential physiological impacts of the virus. This pivotal research highlights the importance of open dialogue between patients and healthcare providers. As we navigate these challenging times, understanding the multifaceted effects of COVID-19 on sexual health becomes crucial in offering the necessary support and interventions to enhance the well-being of women affected by the pandemic.

Drawing from this study, I am reminded of the resilience and complexity of our sexual health in the face of global health crises. It reinforces the importance of compassionate, informed care that addresses not only the physical but also the emotional and psychological dimensions of sexual well-being. I am proud to have been providing males and females with appropriate sexual health evaluations and appropriately optimizing their sexual health which in turn will lead to a magnitude of other mental and physical health improvements including longevity.