# Millions of women will lose access to contraception, face unexpected pregnancies and suffer gender-based violence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report from the UNFPA, the United Nations’ sexual and reproductive health agency.
The coronavirus pandemic could lead to millions of unplanned pregnancies worldwide as stay-at-home orders and lockdowns make it harder for women to access contraception, according to the United Nations.
The UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), which oversees sexual and reproductive health issues, released a report that shows 47 million women may lose access to contraceptives during the pandemic. Research from the UNFPA suggests if lockdowns stay in place for six months, the loss of access to contraception could result in 7 million unplanned pregnancies, it reported.
Miami Herald reported, the longer the lockdown goes on, more service disruptions will occur and the number of unintended pregnancies will increase as well, the UNFPA found.
Health systems are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and offices are closing or limiting the services they provide, according to a news release from the UN. Women are also not showing up for appointments, fearing exposure to COVID-19, NBC News reported.
In the lowest-income countries, contraceptive supplies may run out as supply chains are disrupted by the pandemic, according to the UNFPA. Limited supplies and inability to get to trained healthcare providers or clinics could keep women from accessing their preferred method of contraception, which may be less effective, and potentially discourage them from continuing to use contraceptives, the UNFPA said.
About 450 million women across 114 low- and middle-income countries use contraceptives, according to the UNFPA.
“The pandemic is deepening inequalities, and millions more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health,” Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director said, according to NBC.
About 31 million additional gender-based violence cases can be expected over the coming months as victims of domestic violence are trapped at home with their abusers. Already, data from around the world suggests that lockdown has significantly increased domestic violence rates, it stated in the report.