The past two years have brought about a period of uncertainty, unpredictability, and stress that has deeply affected the mental and physical health of millions around the world. According to researchers at Trinity College Dublin, women, in particular, have been noticing a dramatic disturbance in their sexual health.
Pandemic’s effect on sexual health
To find out how the pandemic has changed the lives of women, the team asked 1,300 women questions regarding their menstruation cycle, sex drive, sleep quality, and their levels of anxiety and depression. Their results outlined that around 56% of the participants observed a change in their menstrual cyclesince the beginning of 2020. As detailed by Mail Online, many experienced a lengthened gap between each menstrual cycle.
An additional two-thirds of women said that the pre-menstrual symptoms, such as moodswings, cramps, and breast tenderness, had become worse after the pandemic started, while another 54% observed a dip in their libido.
While vaccines and viruses are also known to disrupt menstrual cycles, researchers believe that stress is the primary reason behind the changes women are experiencing. They found that the rate of anxiety, sleep deprivation, and depression has doubled that of pre-pandemic standards, in women that are of reproductive age.
Factors such as anxiety, lack of proper sleep, and stress have been known to trigger changes in the already fragile reproductive system. Dr. Michelle Maher, author of the study, hopes that their findings will put a spotlight on the need for women to have better access to resources that will help them to cope with the effects of the pandemic. She said:
Our findings highlight a real need to provide appropriate medical care and mental health support to women affected by menstrual disturbance, given the unprecedented psychological burden associated with the pandemic.
We would encourage women experiencing any reproductive disturbances — such as irregular, missed periods, painful or heavy periods, PMS or reduced sex drive — as well as mental health disturbances — including symptoms of low mood, anxiety, stress and poor sleep — to see their GP for advice.