Pregnancy rates are generally expected to rise amidst the pandemic and not just because everyone’s stuck at home. The numerous shutdowns caused by COVID-19 have cut off access to birth control for many. According to an estimate by the UNFPA, for every three months a shutdown lasts, 2 million women risk losing access to contraception. At this point, that’s about 6 million women worldwide. That can lead to a lot of unplanned pregnancies.
The “Haves” and “Have Nots” of Contraception
There’s a stark contrast between pregnancy trends in developing countries verses developed countries. In less developed areas, women are more likely to completely lose access to contraception because of logistical issues and a sudden increase in economic burden.
In the United States, the opposite is happening. Women are staunchly avoiding pregnancy, citing economic instability. Contraceptive sales are on the rise. The Washington Post put it nicely:
“The results are no surprise: School closures and job losses have disproportionately affected mothers, with women on average bearing a greater child-care burden and more likely to lose or leave their jobs than their male counterparts.”
Fears on Top of Fears
One more factor to consider is fear. Fear of contracting Coronavirus makes many women hesitant to visit health-care clinics. This leads to delays of important check-ups including renewing birth control shots and checking IUD placements. Other women fear law-enforcement who might force them to return home or levy fines for breaking quarantine.
Then there are the fears held by doctors and physicians. Marie Stopes International, one of the largest family planning organizations in the world said,
“…disruptions [in access to healthcare and contraceptives] could lead to up to 3 million unplanned pregnancies, 2.7 million unsafe abortions, and thousands of pregnancy-related deaths.”
While we won’t understand the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for many years, we can understand the impact on women and families right now. Women need access to birth control and health services, just as they always have. If you “have” the power to support these women, we at Thomas Medical encourage you to do what you can for those who “have not.”