Reproductive justice in the time of COVID-19: a systematic review of the indirect impacts of COVID-19 on sexual and reproductive health

Mukherjee, Trena I.; Khan, Angubeen G.; Dasgupta, Anindita; Samari, Goleen

Despite gendered dimensions of COVID-19 becoming increasingly apparent, the impact of COVID-19 and other respiratory epidemics on women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health (SRH) have yet to be synthesized. This review uses a reproductive justice framework to systematically review empirical evidence of the indirect impacts of respiratory epidemics on SRH.

We searched MEDLINE and CINAHL for original, peer-reviewed articles related to respiratory epidemics and women and girls’ SRH through May 31, 2021. Studies focusing on various SRH outcomes were included, however those exclusively examining pregnancy, perinatal-related outcomes, and gender-based violence were excluded due to previously published systematic reviews on these topics. The review consisted of title and abstract screening, full-text screening, and data abstraction.

Twenty-four studies met all eligibility criteria. These studies emphasized that COVID-19 resulted in service disruptions that effected access to abortion, contraceptives, HIV/STI testing, and changes in sexual behaviors, menstruation, and pregnancy intentions.

These findings highlight the need to enact policies that ensure equitable, timely access to quality SRH services for women and girls, despite quarantine and distancing policies. Research gaps include understanding how COVID-19 disruptions in SRH service provision, access and/or utilization have impacted underserved populations and those with intersectional identities, who faced SRH inequities notwithstanding an epidemic. More robust research is also needed to understand the indirect impact of COVID-19 and epidemic control measures on a wider range of SRH outcomes (e.g., menstrual disorders, fertility services, gynecologic oncology) in the long-term.


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Reproductive Health

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Published Here
September 22, 2023


COVID-19, Reproductive health, Sexual health, Gender, Health inequity, Abortion, Contraceptives