Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 418-426

Sexuality, sexual well being, and intimacy during COVID-19 pandemic: An advocacy perspective

1 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. T S Sathyanarayana Rao
Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_484_20

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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV-2, has emerged as a global public health threat. The implications are much beyond just health crisis, and it has long-lasting psychosocial and economic implications. Although the psychological offshoots such as depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and sleep disturbances are being studied in-depth, there is a dearth of literature on the sexual well-being and sexual practices during this pandemic. Considering the physical distancing; travel restrictions; the high human–human transmission rate; misinformation and uncertainty about the sexual routes of transmission for SARS-CoV-2; and fear about intimacy, sexuality, and safe sexual practices have increased significantly. This is more prominent in newly settled or distanced couples and the frontline health workers, with increased risk exposure to the virus. For them, guilt and distress associated with sexual relationships might increase primary psychiatric and sexual disorders. This, in turn, impacts relationships and emotional bonding in couples and affects healthy coping during the pandemic crisis. Although sexual abstinence is the safest practice to prevent transmission, it is not practically feasible in all cases. Risk reduction counseling, sex with quarantined partners, and digital sex are other options that are worth exploring. There are additional concerns of digital safety, unhealthy use of technology, cyber-crimes, and online extortion. Keeping this in the background, this advocacy article glances through the effects of past outbreaks on sexuality, reviews the current recommendations, and proposes methods and approaches for sexual well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is vital for overall public health.



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