(Un)forgotten Sex Lives During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Coping Strategies That Work and the Role of Experience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Available literature points to a worsening trend in sexual functioning, desire, and satisfaction during the pandemic. Nevertheless, virtually no empirical research was conducted on the mechanisms of coping with the pandemic’s impacts on sex life. Thus, the purpose of this exploratory study was to examine a variety of coping mechanisms and their perceived usefulness by people who have and have not tried these coping strategies to maintain and enhance their sex lives during the first year of the pandemic. The cross-sectional data were collected using an online survey methodology (N = 420; 66.9% women) and analyzed utilizing exploratory factor analysis, analysis of variance, and multiple regression. The results revealed nine factors/coping mechanisms (based on 59 items/strategies), including goal-setting strategies, risk and experimentation strategies, relational strategies, caution and logistical strategies, creativity and innovation strategies, substances and context-related strategies, online and technology strategies, diversion strategies, and educational strategies. Consistently, across all the specific coping strategies and overall coping mechanisms, people who tried them found them significantly more useful than those who had not tried these coping strategies. Moreover, a higher diversity of tried strategies per coping mechanism consistently and significantly predicted the perceived usefulness of that coping mechanism. These results emphasize the crucial role of experience with coping mechanisms and show that amidst COVID-related adversity and challenges, many people found ways to adapt their sex lives and enjoy silver-lining opportunities. This exploratory study offers promising evidence for potential sexual coping strategies during times of stress that could be informative for clinical practice and education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3343-3363
Number of pages21
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexual coping
  • Sexual relationship
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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