The Potential Impact of COVID-19 on Female Sexual Function

The Potential Impact of COVID-19 on Female Sexual Function

As of June 2023, the prevalence of COVID-19 in the U.S. has varied, impacting health and psychosocial aspects, along with indirect effects like social distancing. While the effects of COVID-19 on sexual functioning in men are better known, its impact on women is less understood.

Preliminary studies on this topic suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic might negatively impact sexual function in women due to the increased prevalence of anxiety and depression. Additionally, long COVID, (a condition in which individuals continue to experience symptoms or effects of COVID-19 for an extended period after the initial infection has resolved), may also affect sexual function.

To bridge the gap in knowledge in this area, a new study aimed to investigate the relationship between COVID-19, long COVID, and sexual function in cisgender women, considering both physical and psychological factors.

The researchers conducted an online survey in January 2023 that included 2,329 cisgender women, of whom 1,161 reported never having COVID-19 and 1,168 reported having had COVID-19. Participants completed measurements for sexual function, depression, anxiety, and long COVID symptoms. The respondents were then categorized into groups based on their COVID-19 status and whether they experienced long COVID symptoms.

After exclusions for incomplete questionnaires and other factors, 1,313 participants were included in the analysis that focused on differences in sexual function by COVID-19 status. The analysis also examined whether long COVID symptoms mediated this relationship.

Once the data was collected, analysis revealed significant differences between groups based on COVID status. Those who had COVID-19 reported higher levels of long COVID symptoms, depression, anxiety, and stress compared to those who had not.

Additionally, differences in sexual function were observed between groups. Women who had COVID-19, especially those with long COVID, showed lower scores in desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction, indicating poorer sexual function. Moreover, a higher percentage of women with COVID-19 met the clinical cutoff for sexual dysfunction compared to those who had not had COVID-19.

Nevertheless, statistical models examining potential mediators of this relationship yielded a poor fit. This shows that there is likely a complex interplay of factors impacting sexual function for women in the context of COVID-19.

Still,Top of Form the results of this study suggest that cisgender women who had COVID-19 experienced impaired sexual function compared to those who had not, and those with long COVID had even worse sexual function.

Factors like depression and anxiety did not fully explain these effects. Interestingly, women with long COVID had more issues with arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and pain, which suggests a physiological impact.

However, the study had limitations, like being online-based and focusing only on cisgender women, so more inclusive and in-depth research is needed. Despite this, it is essential for patients and clinicians to be aware of these potential effects to seek and offer support to women affected by COVID-19.


  • Seehuus, M., Fertig, M., Handy, A. B., Clifton, J., & Stanton, A. M. (2024). The impact of COVID-19 and long COVID on sexual function in cisgender women. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 21(2), 129–144.

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