COVID-19: Sexual, physical activities great coping tools for homebound women

Jairia Dela Cruz
21 Oct 2020

Peri- and postmenopausal women who have an active sex life and exercise regularly have proven to be quite resilient in confinement in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a study has found. On the other hand, those who use antidepressants are more likely to succumb to adversity and hence have poorer quality of life (QoL).

“Isolation … has been strongly linked to depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline, and reduces resilience factors such as self-worth, sense of purpose, and feeling valued,” according to the investigators. [Aging Ment Health 2019;23:1130-1138; J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs 2020;doi: 10.1111/jpm.12644]

“Moreover, the multitude of factors associated with this quarantine period, including fears related to health and contagion, misinformation about the pandemic, travel bans, government orders, boredom, frustration, inadequate supplies and financial losses, could all have an impact on physical and psychological health, particularly for people in menopausal transition period,” they pointed out. [BMJ 2020;368:m313; Emerg Infect Dis 2004;10:1206-1212]

In a cohort of women aged 40–70 years, physical and sexual activities independently contributed to good health-related (HR)QoL and resilience. This indicated that HRQoL and resilience of peri- and postmenopausal women confined due to the coronavirus outbreak were influenced by several demographic descriptors related to their lifestyle and environment, the investigators said. [Maturitas 2020;doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.09.004]

HRQoL was measured using the 16-item Cervantes short-form scale (Cervantes-SF; 0–100, high scores indicate low HRQoL; n=2,151), while resilience was evaluated with the 14-item Wagnild and Young Resilience Scale (RS-14; 14–98, high scores indicate high resilience levels; n=2,413). The mean global score of the Cervantes-SF was 38.1, while that on the RS-14 was 73.5±13.5. The two scores were negatively correlated (p<0.0001).

Aside from physical and sexual activities, living with others (p<0.001) and use of antidepressants (p<0.001) factored in HRQoL. Resilience was also associated with antidepressant use (p<0.001) but not living with others.

Neither COVID-19 nor menopausal status influenced HRQoL or resilience scores. This finding disagreed with a recent study reporting that people with suspected COVID-19 symptoms had higher rates of depression and lower HRQoL than those without such symptoms. [J Clin Med 2020;doi:/10.3390/jcm9040965]

The discrepancy may be explained by the use of measures evaluating menopause-related HRQoL as opposed to generic HRQoL and having only a fraction of the study population with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 (6.8 percent), according to the investigators. Furthermore, more than half of the women had completed university studies, a variable that was associated with higher HRQoL and resilience.

The takeaway is that working out and being sexually active can help improve the well-being of peri- and postmenopausal women who are quarantining at home, they said. 

Studies comparing cohorts of women in confinement with other similar participants during the pandemic should further elucidate the differences in HRQoL and resilience according to lifestyle-related factors, they added.


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