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Love in the Time of COVID-19: Sexual Function and Quality of Life Analysis During the Social Distancing Measures in a Group of Italian Reproductive-Age Women

      Abstract

      Background

      The beginning of 2020 was characterized by the COVID-19 pandemic. The world governments have adopted restrictive measures to reduce the spread of infection. These measures could affect the sexual function and quality of life of women living with their partner.

      Aim

      The aim is to assess the impact of the social distancing measures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on sexual function and quality of life of noninfected reproductive-age women, living with their sexual partner.

      Methods

      Observational analysis on sexually active women, living with their partner, and without COVID-19 infection was performed. The population previously answered FSFI, FSDS, and SF-36 questionnaires. 4 weeks after the introduction of the restrictive measures, these women were invited to complete the same questionnaires by e-mail for an evaluation during the COVID-19 outbreak.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The primary endpoint was the assessment of the women's sex function change during the social restriction period, by analyzing the FSFI and FSDS questionnaires. The secondary endpoint was the evaluation of the impact on the quality of life calculated by the SF-36 questionnaire.

      Results

      89 patients were considered. The median age was 39 (28–50) years. Mean sexual intercourses/month decreased from 6.3 ± 1.9 to 2.3 ± 1.8, mean difference: −3.9 ± 1.2. FSFI decreased significantly (29.2 ± 4.2 vs 19.2 ± 3.3, mean difference: −9.7 ± 2.6) and FSDS increased significantly (9.3 ± 5.5 vs 20.1 ± 5.2, mean difference: 10.8 ± 3.4). The SF-36 showed a significant change from 82.2 ± 10.2 to 64.2 ± 11.8 4 weeks after the introduction of the restrictive measures; mean difference: −17.8 ± 6.7. The univariable analysis identified working outside the home, university educational level, and parity ≥1 as predictive factors of lower FSFI. In multivariable analysis, working outside the home and combination of working outside the home + university educational level + parity ≥1 were the independent factors of a lower FSFI.

      Clinical Implication

      The negative impact of the COVID-19 epidemic period on sexual function and quality of life in women shows how acute stress might affect the psychological state. Thus, psychological or sexual support could be useful.

      Strengths and Limitations

      To our knowledge, this study is the first that analyzes the change in sexual activity in women during the COVID-19 outbreak period. The limitations were the low number of the analyzed participants, psychological tests were not included, and no data were collected on masturbation, self-heroism, solitary, and nonpenetrative sex.

      Conclusion

      The COVID-19 epidemic and the restrictive social distancing measures have negatively influenced the sexual function and quality of life in not-infected reproductive-age women who live with their sexual partners.
      Schiavi MC, Spina V, Zullo MA, et al. Love in the Time of COVID-19: Sexual Function and Quality of Life Analysis During the Social Distancing Measures in a Group of Italian Reproductive-Age Women. J Sex Med 2020;17:1407–1413.

      Key Words

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