Purpose: Australia introduced 'lockdown' measures to control COVID-19 on 22 March 2020 which continued for a period of two months. We aimed to investigate the impact this had on sexual and reproductive health (SRH).
Materials and methods: Australians aged 18+ were eligible to participate in an online survey from 23 April to 11 May 2020. We report on the experiences of 518 female participants aged <50 years. Pregnancy intentions and contraceptive use were analysed using descriptive statistics. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated to investigate difficulty accessing SRH products and services. Qualitative data were analysed using conventional content analysis.
Results: Most participants were aged 18-24 years, and indicated they were trying to avoid pregnancy. The oral contraceptive pill was the most common single method used however nearly 20% reported they were not using contraception. Women who were employed had less trouble accessing contraception during lockdown. Participants reported delaying childbearing or deciding to remain childfree due to COVID-19.
Conclusion: COVID-19 lockdown impacted the SRH of Australian women. Findings highlight the importance of continued access to SRH services and products during global emergencies.
Keywords: COVID-19; Reproductive health; contraception; pregnancy plans; sexual health.