Unwanted Pregnancy and Covid-19

The coronavirus disease also known as Covid-19 is a viral disease that emerged late last year and has shocked the world, the coronavirus disease is a novel disease because it is caused by a newly discovered coronavirus whose strain has not been encountered before. The world health organization(WHO) has declared the disease a pandemic to ensure adequate preparations were taken, governments around the world have taken necessary precautions to avoid the spread of this disease and also set up multiple centers called isolation centers to take care of infected patients.
Covid-19 has put a strain on various factors such as the economy, mental health, freedom etc. Sexual and reproductive health can also be said to be affected by the pandemic. This article is to give insight about the effect of covid-19 relating to sexual and reproductive health i.e. unwanted pregnancy, in this context. Unwanted pregnancies are pregnancies that are unplanned, mistimed, not wanted due to several factors, globally approximately 50% of pregnancies are unintended. Unwanted pregnancy is not a direct result of the disease, it can rather be classified as an indirect result of the disease due to inadequate health care services and resources.
With most population across the world under lockdown, United Nations Population Fund projected another disturbing concern earlier according to the current state stating an alarming possibility of seven million unwanted pregnancies and leave 47 million women unable to access modern contraceptives, in case the lockdown last for another five months. The data also stated that over 47 million women in more than 114 low and middle-income countries currently lie at the risk of unwanted pregnancies.
The longer people stay more together, the more likely they are to cry and laugh at the same thing. New research has shown that roommates and couples grow more likely emotionally over time and develop similar emotional responses the longer they stay together. Researchers have suggested that the emotions of individuals in relationships become increasingly similar over time through a process called emotional convergence. During this pandemic, stay at home orders have been given which has made most people to stay at home. There is likely emotional convergence to re-occur between couples that had been missing before which can lead to increase in sexual activities that can lead to unwanted pregnancy.
Birth control method is a process where different contraceptive methods are used to control unintended pregnancy. Many factors are considered by men, women, couples at any point in their life when choosing the most appropriate contraceptive methods. These factors include effectiveness, safety, acceptability and availability (accessibility and affordability). The various types of contraceptive methods include hormonal methods (implant, injection, pills, patch etc.), reversible methods (intrauterine contraception), barrier methods (cervical caps, sponge, male condom, female condom, spermicides) permanent methods (tubal ligation, vasectomy), fertility awareness-based methods. Due to the pandemic, lockdown has been enforced in countries which has hindered the freedom of movement. The various type of contraceptive methods listed above; some of them have to be performed by professional doctors, counselling or to be bought from the pharmacy but due to lockdown restriction, the availability of these services has been hindered because people are scared to go for health care services due to fear of being infected with the virus, this is a major factor contributing to unwanted pregnancy during covid-19 due to inability to have access to contraceptives or medical personnel.
Unwanted pregnancy is more likely to occur during this pandemic, there are ways in which unintended pregnancies that are not determined to be kept can be disposed according to laws of some countries, people are unable to go to clinics that provide safe abortion services due to travel restrictions and closure of clinics. Currently all health personnel are required to be at the frontline to take care of covid-19 patients which has led to reduction in services rendered by these clinics and the closure of clinics that perform this services. Due to this, people may have to turn to unsafe abortions which is defined by the world health organization(WHO) as those performed by persons lacking the necessary skills, or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both. It has been estimated that if countrywide lockdowns forced clinics to close or if abortion is considered as a nonessential service, women who would normally have a safe abortion would instead resort to an unsafe method which in turn, result to additional maternal death.
The result of unwanted pregnancy during the pandemic can lead to health implications such as;
Reduced breastfeeding
Relationship stress (increased risk of physical violence during pregnancy)
Mental health (more likely to suffer from depression during or after pregnancy)
Premature birth
Low mother-child relationship bonding
Child abuse and neglect
Substance use
Induced abortion
To avoid further sexual and reproductive health crisis, sexual and reproductive health should be prioritized. Governments and their partners (nongovernmental organizations and donors) should take quick action, firstly sexual and reproductive healthcare (safe abortion, contraceptive services, maternal and newborn care) should be advocated and defined. By doing this, it will allow people to travel for sexual and reproductive health care services even in area in which movement is restricted without fear of legal consequences. Secondly to improve sexual and reproductive health care services, contraceptives should be make available without a prescription; decentralize the distribution of contraceptives, drugs and other supplies from the national level to the regional level to prevent delay. Services should be planned to be delivered at people’s home and sexual and reproductive health pharmaceuticals should be processed to be delivered monthly.
Governments, partners and private sectors should strengthen their national and regional supply chains, by doing this alternative supplier will be identified and commodities will be prepositioned which will make sexual and health reproductive health supplies and medications more obtainable to providers and patients. Innovative methods of care e.g. telehealth to prevent diversion of resources and personnel from sexual and reproductive health services. Finally, policy restrictions should be removed to allow adequate health facilities to provide health services, policies should remove pressure on health systems, grow access to sexual and reproductive health services. Sexual and reproductive health should be advertised at various advertising media agents, social platforms, campaigns etc. to prove to the government on the negative effect of sexual and reproductive health crisis that tends to have tragic effect on individuals.
Disease outbreaks are to be expected to repeat themselves, but losses that occur from sexual and reproductive health should not be repeated. By learning from covid-19 and other previous diseases, putting in place adequate resources and systems and ensuring major sexual and reproductive health services, we can prevent sexual and reproductive health crisis that can have tragic, lasting effects on individuals and the globe.

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