- The effect of the pandemic on mental health is a major cause for concern
- A study investigated the effect of sexual activity on mental health during the pandemic
- Researchers subsequently revealed that sexual activity during the pandemic led to lower levels of depression and anxiety
The mental health of people around the world as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has been extensively discussed and studied.
However, there has not been enough focus on sexual behaviour and wellbeing during this stressful time.
One study in particular stressed that “increased awareness of healthcare providers on sexual health implications related to the Covid-19 pandemic is needed”.
Psychiatrists and sexologists from the University of Rome embarked on a study to analyse the benefits of sexual activity for psychological, rational and sexual health during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The researchers took measures such as confinement and physical distancing into consideration as these had an impact on many people's psychological states during this time.
Effects on sexual activity
“Together with several psychological issues characterising the pandemic, it is possible that sexual behaviour was also affected during Covid-19 era,” the researchers stated in their paper.
In order to fulfil the aims of the study, researchers set up an online survey and created an ad hoc website to assess “anxiety, depression, dyadic adjustment, sexual function and dysfunction, and their reciprocal relationships by using a set of well-validated psychometric tools”.
The survey was anonymous and asked participants questions like whether they lived with a partner or not during lockdown and whether they were subject to quarantine.
The results were used to determine how psychological suffering, changes in romantic relationships and isolation influenced sexual function.
Anxiety and depression were also evaluated according to a Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) – a self-reported measurement tool that had been validated for clinical use.
Psychological, sexual and rational outcomes
Findings of the study show that anxiety and depression scores were significantly lower for individuals who were sexually active during lockdown.
It also shows that a lack of sexual activity increased these scores, and that sexual activity plays a protective role in psychological distress, relational health and sexual health.
The researchers concluded: “We demonstrated by well-validated tools that the Covid-19 lockdown dramatically impacted on the sexual health of the population.
We also found sexual activity as protective, in both genders, to the quarantine-related plague of anxiety, depression and relational issues.”