Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Contraception and family planning

6 April 2020 | Q&A

Yes. All modern methods of contraception are safe to use, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

If you have had a baby in the last six months or have a health condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or breast cancer – or if you smoke – seek advice from a health care professional to ensure you are using a method of contraception which is suitable and safe for you. 

If you do not want to become pregnant, you should start or continue to use your contraceptive method of choice. You may be able to access information and contraceptive services from a healthcare provider by phone or online.  

If you cannot access these services you may opt for a method that is available without a prescription (such as condoms, spermicides, pills, or emergency contraceptive pills) from a nearby pharmacy or drug shop. 

If you cannot access your contraceptive method of choice – perhaps because it requires a prescription, or because it can only be given to you by a health worker – consider using condoms, fertility awareness-based methods, lactational amenorrhea (if you are exclusively breastfeeding), or other contraceptive methods that are recommended for self-care in your country.  

Depending on the situation in your country, methods recommended for self-care could include the pill or mini-pill, emergency contraception pills, and DMPA-SC (Sayana Press®). 

All modern methods of contraception help to prevent pregnancy. Women and their partners can choose any modern contraceptive method that is acceptable to and safe for them. The best method of contraception is the one that works well for you.

There is a wide variety of modern methods, one of which may suit you best. For more information see here

Condoms, when they are used consistently and correctly, are the only method of contraception that help to prevent unintended pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.  They can be used together with other methods of contraception to protect against both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Emergency contraceptive pills can prevent up to 95% of pregnancies when taken within 5 days after intercourse, and they can be taken by anyone with or without a health condition  

Yes. It may be difficult however, to access all the methods of contraception that are normally available in your country due to restrictions on movement, lack of supply, as well as increased demands on health providers and services.  

If you have a pre-existing health condition, consult a provider to find out what options suit you best, and which are available and feasible. Seek advice and information from your health provider and consider using methods that do not have medical restrictions like minipills, condoms, fertility awareness-based methods, diaphragm, spermicides or lactational amenorrhea if you are exclusively breastfeeding. 

Removal of long acting methods such as implants or IUDs, after the recommended period of use (and routine follow up appointments) may not be prioritized by your country’s health system during this health emergency. Seek advice from your health provider. If you are experiencing side effects or desire urgent removal for other reasons, contact a provider to find out what options suit you best, and which are available and feasible. 

If, due to restrictions on movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic you cannot have your long acting method removed straight away, it is important to use another method of contraception to avoid pregnancy at this time.   

There are no medical problems caused by delaying removal of long acting methods such as implants or IUDs. Do not try to remove the contraception method yourself; wait until you are able to access health care from a trained provider. 

Contraception and family planning information and services are life-saving and important at all times. Sexual activity does not cease with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is therefore crucial to ensure that people are able to access rights-based services and information to initiate and / or continue use of contraception. 

By preventing unintended pregnancies, contraception helps to protect girls and women from the negative health consequences of unintended pregnancies, which can save their lives. Contraception reduces the need for abortion, meaning that women and girls are less at risk of unsafe abortion, which again can be lifesaving.  

Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, help to prevent both unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV).  

In addition, by preventing the negative health consequences associated with unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortion and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), contraception can help alleviate additional pressure on already-stretched health systems which are working hard to address COVID-19. 

  • Plan and develop innovative strategies to ensure as many eligible people as possible can access information and contraception during this period. 

  • Increase use of mobile phones and digital technologies to help people make decisions about which contraceptive methods to use, and how they can be accessed.  

  • Enable health care workers to provide contraceptive information and services as per national guidelines to the full extent possible.  This is particularly important where pregnancy poses a high risk to health.   

  • Expand availability of contraceptive services (including both information and methods) through places other than healthcare facilities, such as pharmacies, drug shops, online platforms and other outlets.  This can be with or without prescription depending on national guidelines and contraceptive method.   

  • Relax restrictions on the number of repeat issues of prescription-only hormonal contraceptives that can be issued. 

  • Ensure access to emergency post-coital contraception, including consideration of over the counter provision. 

  • Enable access to contraception for women and girls in the immediate post-partum and post abortion periods when they may access health services.  

 

  • Increase use of telehealth for counselling and sharing of messages related to safe and effective use of contraception and for selection and initiation of contraceptives. 

  • Ensure adequate inventory to avoid potential stock outs at all levels of the health system. 

  • Prepare advisories for users on how they can access contraceptive information, services and supplies. 

  • Monitor contraceptive consumption in your area to identify any potential pitfall and shortage.

  • Increase availability and access to the contraceptives which can be used by the client without service provider support.