Contraceptive use and pregnancy plans among women of reproductive age during the first Australian COVID-19 lockdown: findings from an online survey

Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2021 Aug;26(4):265-271. doi: 10.1080/13625187.2021.1884221. Epub 2021 Feb 22.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • COVID-19* / psychology
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods*
  • Contraception Behavior* / psychology
  • Contraception Behavior* / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraception* / methods
  • Contraception* / statistics & numerical data
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive Health
  • Reproductive Health Services* / organization & administration
  • Reproductive Health Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sexual Health