Sexual Health During COVID-19: A Scoping Review

Nana Ernst Toldam, Christian Graugaard, Rikke Meyer, Louise Thomsen, Sabine Dreier, Emmanuele A Jannini, Annamaria Giraldi*

*Corresponding author for this work
7 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic impacted profoundly on the wellbeing and social interactions of the world population, and all dimensions of sexual health were potentially affected by globally implemented preventive measures.

OBJECTIVES: The scoping review aimed to compile existing research investigating possible effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on adult sexual health, that is, sexual behavior, functioning, and satisfaction. Further, studies on the interplay between mental health and sexual well-being during the pandemic were reviewed.

METHODS: The review was conducted in accordance with guidelines established by the Joanna Briggs Institute and the Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) Checklist. On October 11-12, 2021, PubMed, Embase, PsycInfo, Cinahl, Cochrane, Sociological Abstracts and Scopus were systematically searched for relevant peer-reviewed papers employing quantitative methodology. Additionally, unpublished ("grey") research studies on the subject were retrieved. The screening, data extraction, and analysis of evidence were conducted by 4 independent reviewers using an iterative approach.

RESULTS: Based on 107 studies included, the scoping review showed that the pandemic had had a wide impact on all dimensions of sexual health. Except for solo sex activities, mainly negative COVID-19 implications were identified, although findings were, in sum, characterized by complexity and unpredictability. Thus, sexual behavior, functioning, and satisfaction during the pandemic appeared to be mitigated by a broad range of sociodemographic and contextual factors. Finally, sexual health seemed deeply entwined with overall mental health.

CONCLUSION: The scoping review revealed a broad range of COVID-19-related effects on sexual health, including an overall decline in partnered sex and a concurrent increase in solo sex activities. It also emphasized a need for future research to shed light on possible long-term consequences of the pandemic in various population groups and on all aspects of sexual health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSexual Medicine Reviews
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)714-753
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Adult
  • COVID-19
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemics
  • Sexual Health


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