Women's Health 2020 Report 

Survey finds COVID-19 restrictions impacted self-image, chronic conditions for many women

Published Dec. 21, 2020

 

More than 126,000 women in America have died from COVID-19, and millions more have been infected. According to our recent survey of 1,017 women, the social restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic also had far-reaching health impacts on several key areas of physical and mental well-being for women across the country. 

Similar to research showing COVID-19 has made it more difficult for doctors to address women’s health needs, our survey of 1,017 women found that COVID-19 restrictions have impacted the health of a significant number of females in the U.S., largely due to issues such as negative self-image and diminished self-care practices.

Key Findings

  • 35% of women say the stay-at-home lifestyle during COVID-19 has negatively affected their self-image.

  • More than half of women who report being in poor or fair health say COVID-19 restrictions have further worsened their health conditions

  • Almost half of women spend less time on their daily beauty routines now than before COVID-19, and 37% say they likely will not return to their normal routine once the pandemic ends.

  • More than 1 in 3 Generation Z women said COVID-19 restrictions have led them to be more open with their spouse or partner about health issues. Only 10% of baby boomer women said the same.

COVID-19 Restrictions Are Contributing to Negative Self-Image, Especially for Younger Women

Overall, more than 1 out of every 3 women surveyed reported a diminished self-image during the at-home lifestyle resulting from COVID-19 restrictions.

This was especially true for younger women. 45% of women from Generation Z (born after 1997) reported a worsening self-image during 2020, and that number decreased with every age group. Only 18% of baby boomers reported a worsened self-image.

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Graphic showing percentages of women who said COVID-19 restrictions affected their self image, by generation

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, a negative body image can put one at a higher risk of certain mental health conditions such as eating disorders or depression.

COVID-19 Restrictions Have Stifled Self-Care

Callout graphic showing 37% of women will not return to previous beauty routine after COVID-19 ends

With many women no longer going into an office or school, attending social functions or just generally going out in public, their daily self-care routines have been neglected.

Nearly half of women surveyed report spending less time on their daily beauty routine now than before COVID-19. And 37% of women say they will likely not return to their normal beauty routines after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.  

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Graphic showing the percentages of women who spend certain amounts of time on their beauty routine before and after COVID-19

The Pandemic Has Hampered How Women Manage Illnesses

Our survey found that women have had mixed experiences managing illnesses during the pandemic. 

  • 38% of women said it was easier for them to manage their illness, perhaps because managing their illness is easier in the comfort of their home. 

  • 34% said it was more difficult to manage their illness during COVID-19 restrictions, possibly because their illness requires frequent trips to a doctor or pharmacy, special diets or regular exercise or therapy.

Recent research from the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed the pandemic has made it more difficult for most OBGYNs to address women’s health needs, with more than half reporting a decline in patient visits from March to June 2020.

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Graphic showing the percentage of women who have found it easier or more difficult to manage illnesses during quarantine

The majority of women surveyed listed “chronic health conditions” as the overall health issue that was easiest to manage during COVID-19. “Overworking/exhaustion” ranked second.

Interestingly, “lack of exercise, poor diet or weight struggles” was one of the health issues many women reported to be easier to manage. This could possibly be explained by some women without a morning and evening commute having more time for exercise.

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Graphic showing the 5 health issues most women found it easier to manage during quarantine

When it came to physical health, the survey showed some instances of “the sick getting sicker.”

  • When asked to compare their health in 2019 to their health in 2020, 55% of those in poor health said their condition had gotten even worse in 2020, and 50% of those in fair health said the same.

  • Just 3% of those in poor health and 11% of those in fair health reported getting better in 2020.

  • For those in good health, just 18% reported getting worse and 21% reported getting better.

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Graphic showing the percentage of women who said their health improved or declined in 2020

Staying at Home Has Made Women More Open With Their Partner About Health

There has been one silver lining as it relates to women’s health during COVID-19: Almost one-quarter of women said they have become more open to talking about their health issues with their partner during the pandemic than they previously were. Only 4% reported being less open about it.

And younger women – who were more vulnerable than other age groups about their self-image – were the most likely to say they have become more open with their spouse or partner about their health. 

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Graphic showing percentage of women who are more or less open with their partner about their health

“Sex life and sexuality” and “mental health” were the two issues found to be at the forefront of these conversations, followed by “body insecurities.”

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Graphic showing the health issues women are more comfortable to discuss with their partner

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting stay-at-home lifestyle caused a significant number of women to struggle with their self-image in 2020. Many women have neglected their typical self-care routines, and many do not even plan to resume them once the pandemic ends. Diminished perceptions of one’s self during COVID-19 has been especially more evident among younger women. 

Women’s physical health has also been challenged, with many women finding it more difficult to manage their conditions during the stay-at-home lifestyle. And many who were already in compromised health at the start of the pandemic have seen their health deteriorate further.

COVID-19 restrictions have allowed a sizable number of women to become more open with their partner about their health issues. 

Methodology

This study was conducted on December 11, 2020, using an audience pool gathered using MTurk, a survey platform tool. The total survey included 1,017 women. 8% of participants were Baby Boomers, 19% belonged to Generation X, 44% were millennials and 29% belonged to Generation Z. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 89. The data were weighted to the 2019 U.S. Census for age and gender.

Participants were filtered based on completion time and failure to follow written instructions within the survey.

Margin of error: +/- 4% (95% confidence interval)

This survey relies on self-reported data.

Fair Use Statement

Of course we would love for you to share our work with others. We just ask that if you do, please grant us the proper citation with a link to this study so that we may be given credit for our efforts.

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