FSRH press release: Doctors warn unplanned pregnancies could rise if essential contraceptive services are not maintained during the COVID-19 crisis

Posted 24 March 2020

Date: 24 Mar 2020

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is today launching guidance for healthcare professionals and decision-makers with recommendations on essential sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) services that need to be provided during the COVID-19 outbreak. Recommendations also cover changes to current practice which will make it easier for women to access vital contraceptive care safely during the crisis.

Key recommendations include:

  • Consultations for emergency contraception can take place via telephone or video. Provision of the emergency copper intrauterine device (Cu-IUD), the most effective emergency contraception method, should continue where possible.
  • Repeat contraception prescriptions and counselling for intrauterine contraceptives and contraceptive implants can be done online or by phone.
  • Repeat prescriptions for the combined pill currently require measurement of BMI and blood pressure. If these have been measured in the previous 12 months, the combined pill can be provided for a further six to twelve months.
  • Women wishing to start the progestogen-only pill (POP) can be adequately assessed by an online or telephone consultation.
  • Supplies of the agreed contraceptive method can be provided through community pharmacy or ‘click and collect’ services.
  • Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), the most effective methods of contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies, can be used for an extended period of time with minimal loss of efficacy. FSRH recommends extending the use of the contraceptive implant to four years; the banded copper IUD to 12 years; and the 52mg hormonal intrauterine system (Mirena and Levosert) to six years. Users of copper IUDs licensed for 5 years, Jaydess and Kyleena should be advised to use condoms or add POP at end of the license duration of use.
  • Use of online contraception services should be extended across the UK.

Dr Anne Lashford, Vice President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“We are strongly supportive of the national effort to combat COVID-19, and I am incredibly proud of all frontline clinicians and non-medical staff who are working tirelessly, many outside of their scope of expertise, to fight the pandemic in the UK.

“Doctors, nurses and other clinicians working in sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) services are being redeployed to work in the national response to the outbreak. This comes at a time when SRH services were already operating beyond capacity.

“It is crucial that we ensure women of all ages can continue to access effective contraception during the crisis, avoiding unplanned pregnancies which will likely lead to added strain on both maternity and abortion services”.

“GPs and clinicians working in community clinics should try, as much as possible, to prescribe and provide advice on contraception on the phone or online. It is vital that emergency contraception continues to be provided in a timely manner, with women able to pick up oral emergency contraception in pharmacies or via click and collect services.

“Women need to be provided with clear information about where and how to access available services.”


For further information please contact Camila Azevedo, FSRH External Affairs Manager, at cazevedo@fsrh.org or 07379408587.

Notes to Editors