Qaderi K, Yazdkhasti M, Zangeneh S, Behbahani BM, Kalhor M, Shamsabadi A, Jesmani Y, Norouzi S, Kajbafvala M, Khodavirdilou R, Rahmani N, Namadian M, Ezabadi SG, Alkatout I, Mehraeen E, Rasoal D
Sex Med 11 (2) qfad005 [2023-04-00; online 2023-03-24]
Little is known about the impact of the coronavirus on sexual behavior, function, and satisfaction. The aim of the present study was to systematically review people's sexual function and behaviors and their changes in sexual activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Comprehensive searches in PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus were conducted with keywords in accordance with MeSH terms: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, coronavirus, sexual health, sexual function, sexual dysfunctions, sexuality, sexual orientation, sexual activities, and premarital sex. Two reviewers independently assessed full-text articles according to predefined criteria: original design, English studies, and investigating either the general population or sexual minorities. Risk of bias in the studies was assessed by the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, and data were pooled via random effects meta-analyses. We utilized the standardized mean difference to evaluate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on sexual activity, functioning, and satisfaction. We included 19 studies in the analysis and 11 studies in the meta-analysis, with a sample size of 12 350. To investigate sexual activity changes, a sample size of 8838 was entered into the subgroup analysis, which showed a significant decrease in both genders (5821 women, P < .033; 3017 men, P < .008). A subgroup meta-analysis showed that the sexual function of men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic significantly declined (3974 women, P < .001; 1427 men, P < .001). Sexual desire and arousal decreased in both genders, though mainly in women. In investigating sexual satisfaction changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, a meta-analysis with a sample size of 2711 showed a significant decrease (P < .001). The most indicative changes in sexual behaviors during the pandemic were the increase in masturbating and usage of sex toys. Greater COVID-19 knowledge was associated with lower masturbation, oral sex, and vaginal sex. The more protective behaviors were associated with less hugging, kissing, cuddling, genital touching, watching porn with a partner, and vaginal sex. The COVID-19 pandemic led to increased challenges and changes for individuals' sexual behaviors. Efforts for preventive strategies should therefore be concentrated between pandemics, while ensuring that there is information available to the population during a pandemic for help in times of psychological distress or crisis.