The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on contraceptive methods, abortion, and unintended pregnancy: a cross-sectional study

Fatemeh Rezaei, Leila Amiri-Farahani, Shima Haghani, Sally Pezaro, Fereshteh Behmanesh

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Background and Aim
By creating an international emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic may have led to compromised reproductive health care, including family planning services, and thus increased unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions. This study was conducted to compare methods of contraception, abortion, and unintended pregnancies in those served by the health centers of Babol city in Iran, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A cross-sectional study was conducted including 425 participants registered to the health centers of Babol city, Mazandaran province, Iran. Using a multi-stage method, 6 urban health centers and 10 rural centers were selected for inclusion. Proportional allocation method was used for sampling those who met the inclusion criteria. A questionnaire was used to collect data in relation to individual characteristics and reproductive behaviors via 6 questions focused upon methods and preparation of contraception, number and type of abortions, and number and causes of unintended pregnancy from July to November 2021. The data were analyzed using SPSS software version 26. Significance level was considered to be p 
Most participants aged between 20 and 29 years old had a diploma level of education, were housewives and lived in the city. Prior to the pandemic, 32.0% used modern contraceptive methods and 31.6% used these during the pandemic. No change in the combination of contraceptive methods used was observed between these two periods. Approximately two-thirds used the withdrawal method in both periods. The majority of participants in both periods purchased their contraceptives from a pharmacy. Unintended pregnancy increased from 20.4% prior to the pandemic to 25.4% during the pandemic. Abortions increased from 19.1% prior to the pandemic to 20.9% during the pandemic, although these findings were not found to be statistically significant. Contraceptive methods had a statistically significant relationship with age, education, spouse’s education, spouse’s occupation, and place of residence. The number of unintended pregnancies had a significant relationship with age, the educational level of both participants and their spouses and socio-economic status, and the number of abortions had a statistically significant relationship with the age and education level of the spouse (p > 0.05).

Despite there being no change in contraceptive methods compared to the pre-pandemic period, an increase in the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and illegal abortions was observed. This may be indicative of an unmet need for family planning services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number357
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Women's Health
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.


The present article is extracted from a master thesis funded by the Research
Deputy of Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.


  • Contraceptive methods
  • s, Unintended pregnancy
  • Abortion
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Reproductive behaviors


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