It is well known that fertility can be affected by changes in health, social, economic and environmental circumstances. There have been reports of a reduction in fertility and changes in the characteristics of those having babies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, at the start of the pandemic governments put measures in place to control the spread of the virus, including changes to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) polices and services. The consequences of such measures are having significant impacts on SRH globally. There have been recent reports globally and in the UK of increases in maternal and neonatal mortality, stillbirth, anxiety in pregnant women and new mothers, alongside reports of issues accessing contraception resulting in unintended pregnancies and abortion.
The aim of this research is to examine and understand how the pandemic has impacted fertility, SRH services, SRH outcomes and ultimately the SRH of women. Using a mixed-methods approach combining quantitative methods using data from the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank and qualitative methods, this project will contribute to existing evidence building on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on SRH in the UK. The research will also provide evidence to inform recommendations and improve SRH policy and services for the ‘new normal’ NHS and beyond.