COVID-related stress affects people’s sex lives, studies find

Study by Texas State University researcher finds COVID had negative impact on sexual desire


The COVID-19 pandemic had negative consequences in the bedroom.

New research, led by Texas State University’s Rhona Balzarini, found that COVID-related stress factors have had a major negative impact on sexual desire around the world.

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As people around the world hunkered down and spent way more time at home than usual during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many predicted there would be a baby boom — but that anticipated spike did not happen.

Balzarini and her team wanted to know whether financial concern, worry, loneliness and stress impacted sexual desire.

In the first of two studies, researchers surveyed a group of more than 1,300 volunteers who were in relationships and engaged in social isolation together — nearly 70% were women and they were in their mid-30′s on average.

A second study used a large, international sample over a longer period of time.

Researchers found that stress resulted in a lower desire for sex. People who reported feelings of loneliness and COVID-related worry initially reported higher sexual desire for their partner, but that decreased over time as those emotions persisted.

“It seems that one of the reasons that COVID-related stressors like financial strain, loneliness and worry can influence desire is because COVID-related stressors might trigger depressive symptoms and this might be particularly true as time goes on,” Balzarini explained.

The report, “Sexual Desire in the Time of COVID-19: How COVID-Related Stressors Are Associated with Sexual Desire in Romantic Relationships,” is published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

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About the Author

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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