Women who have had a Covid-19 infection have less desire, arousal, satisfaction and fewer orgasms compared to those who have never been infected, a first-of-its-kind study suggests.
Researchers from three states compared the sexual function of more than 1,300 women who never had Covid, had been infected with the virus or had long Covid – those who contracted the infection at least three months before the study.
They also measured the participants’ levels of depression, anxiety and stress.
The team found that women who had never had Covid had “significantly higher” levels of desire, arousal, lubrication and satisfaction than the Covid and long Covid groups combined.
Additionally, “those with long Covid reported significantly worse arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and pain” compared to the other groups, the team wrote.
Researchers in Vermont, Massachusetts and California found that women who had Covid or long Covid had lower sexual desire than women who were never infected with the virus.
Dr. Amelia M Stanton, author of the study and assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, said: “It is It may come as a surprise to some people that long Covid symptoms can actually have a physiological and psychological impact on women’s sexual well-being.
Researchers suggest that long Covid could alter blood flow to the genitals, leading to less arousal. Previous studies have shown that the condition can damage the delicate lining of blood vessels, disrupting flow through the body.
Dr. Stanton estimates that this is the first study to highlight the effect of long Covid on women’s sexual desire.
The team asked doctors to talk about sexual health with patients who have had Covid and offer more resources, such as medications and counseling, for sexual dysfunction.
The researchers, from Vermont, Massachusetts and California, surveyed 1,313 women divided into four age groups: 18-20, 21-30, 31-40 and over 41 years old.
Additionally, the researchers divided the women into three groups: those who never had Covid, those who had Covid at least once, and those who met the criteria for long Covid, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC).
The body defines long Covid as a condition that includes symptoms such as shortness of breath, mental confusion and fatigue for at least three months after the initial infection.
About half of the participants reported never testing positive for Covid.
The vast majority of participants in all three groups were white and included lesbian, bisexual, asexual, and heterosexual women.
Participants were asked a questionnaire that included questions such as: “During the past 4 weeks, how often did you feel sexual desire?”
Only women who reported having had sex in the past month were included in the results.
Women who had been infected with Covid had 8.5 percent less desire, 2.5 percent less arousal and three percent less satisfaction.
And those with long Covid had 12 percent less desire, five percent less arousal and five percent less lubrication.
The team is largely unsure why Covid hampered sexual desire, although they suggested it could be due to blood not flowing properly to the genitals.
“Long Covid may reflect, in part, an underlying sensitivity to bodily sensations, discomfort, or pain,” the researchers wrote.
These sensitivities, they add, could help explain why desire and satisfaction did not differ between women with Covid-19 and those with long Covid, while the more physiological components (i.e., lubrication, orgasm, pain) did differ between these two groups.
The study was published earlier this month in the Journal of sexual medicine.