Published on Dec 26, 2022 - 4 min read
Women have been affected and still face the consequences of Coronavirus on their sexual health. Read more about the impact of COVID-19 on female sexual health.
One of the most impactful aspects of COVID-19 is how it has affected people's lives. It has worsened existing and underlying medical conditions, along with its signs and symptoms, and it has worsened and impacted various systems in the body. Studies linked show its impact on reproductive functioning and female sexual health too. During the pandemic, due to the implementation of public health measures, people's sexual activity has been affected to a great extent. Restrictions on people's activities, reduced social activities, adventure activities, and psychological stress have dramatically affected sexual functions and activities.
The impact of COVID-19 on female sexual health is a combination of several factors:
Sedentary life and lack of physical activity.
Underlying medical conditions and pre-existing conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
Mental health conditions (such as depression).
During the pandemic, though people with COVID-19 had similar signs and symptoms, it affected everyone differently. People with underlying medical conditions and geriatric populations suffered the most. In addition, the devastating effects of COVID-19 were so severe that they naturally overshadowed the effect of the virus on sexual health. However, COVID-19 has affected female sexual health in one way or the other. Though the pandemic has nearly ended, women still face the effects of COVID-19 on their sexual health.
COVID - 19 and Menstrual Changes: Studies and research showed about 25 % of women who had COVID-19 suffered from menstrual dysfunction and dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation. These changes can be due to inflammation in the uterus caused by the Coronavirus or chronic stress from dealing with its symptoms. It also can be due to other factors that make it difficult for a woman's body to regulate her menstrual cycle.
Decreased Menstrual Volume and Extended Cycles: Studies show around twenty percent of women had decreased menstrual volume, and 19 percent experienced prolonged and extended cycles. Some women also faced heavy menstrual volume, irregular periods, and blood clots after recovering from COVID-19 infection.
Research suggests that this could result from the consequences of transient sex hormone changes caused by suppression of ovary function. While a few others also believe stress could be a potential cause to cause hormonal changes.
Effect on the Uterus: The virus could cause scarring and damage uterus tissue, making it difficult for women to get pregnant after contracting it (difficulty in conceiving).
Abnormal Ovary Function: COVID-19 infection lowers the immunity levels of the person suffering from it even further. This makes the person more prone to infections and affects various other organs, including the ovaries.
Effect on the Hypothalamic Gonadal Axis (HPA Axis): Another major factor is stress. Increased stress hormones affect the hypothalamic gonadal axis affecting the functioning of ovaries. The hypothalamus releases GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone), which sends a signal to the anterior pituitary to release LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). These hormones signal the ovaries to release estrogen and progesterone (female hormones). Stress is a major factor to cause fluctuations in this axis and causes abnormalities in this cycle. Increased stress levels during COVID-19 thus impact this hypothalamic-pituitary-ovary axis and cause major menstrual cycle changes.
Delayed Diagnosis and Treatment in Pregnant Women: During pregnancy, a woman infected with COVID-19 may not undergo x-ray, and CT (computed tomography) scans due to the potential risks to her growing fetus. This can delay the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 infection in pregnant women, particularly those with more severe symptoms. This could also cause complications for the fetus as well as the mother.
Impact of COVID-19 on Pregnancy: Studies conclude pregnant women suffering from COVID-19 are more prone to preterm delivery than ones without COVID-19. In addition, severe illness from the infection may cause further complications for the growing fetus and the mother (such as preterm birth, stillbirth, or long-term complications for the newborn). The delta variant of the COVID-19 virus was also associated with a risk of fetal and maternal death.
Impact of COVID-19 on Female Fertility: COVID-19 infection has been associated indirectly with female infertility. Reduced immunity levels cause the person to become prone to other viral infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, which may cause female infertility.
Decreased Sexual Function: The infection impacted the relationship between partners and male and female sexual function. Studies report a decrease in sexual intercourse (due to short pleasure spans) and an increase in solitary sexual function (isolation from partners).
Use of Birth Control Pills: Increased frequency of sexual intercourse increases the chances of pregnancy. More women used contraceptive pills during the pandemic to prevent unwanted pregnancies. They also experienced its side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, weight gain, cervical bleeding, and spotting.
Change in Ovulation Patterns: Most women experience fluctuations in their ovulation patterns. Some studies show that ovulation occurs later than usual for women exposed to COVID-19. This can lead to difficulty conceiving if you are trying to get pregnant after contracting this virus.
Changes in Sexual Desires: Some fluctuations have occurred in sexual desire and arousal patterns due to COVID-19. Studies show that many women experience decreased sexual desire or arousal following exposure to COVID-19; this can impact the frequency of wanting sex and how easily one becomes aroused during sex.
The impact of COVID-19 on female sexual health does need further research. Long-term implications and impact are yet to be studied. But it is clear that women have been affected and still face the consequences of COVID-19 on their sexual health. Most of these symptoms resolve after a few months, and many will go away entirely after one year. However, some women will require additional treatment beyond this point to get back on track with their cycles and avoid long-term complications like ovarian cysts or endometriosis later in life. Good nutritional supplementation, exercise, diet, and stress-relieving activities for a woman can help boost her fertility and address menstrual changes and other symptoms related to hormonal fluctuations.
Last reviewed at:
26 Dec 2022 - 4 min read
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