To assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of reimbursed contraceptives in France after 15 months of the pandemic, according to age-group and updating previous data only pertaining to the first lockdown (two months).
We conducted a national register-based study by extracting all reimbursements of oral contraceptives (OC), emergency contraception (EC), intra-uterine devices (IUD) and implants from the French National Health Insurance database (SNDS), which includes and covers 99.5% of the French population, in 2018, 2019, 2020 and from 01/01/2021 to 04/30/2021. We calculated the expected use of contraceptives in 2020 and 2021 in the absence of the pandemic, based on 2018 and 2019 usage and taking annual trends into account. We assessed the difference between observed and expected dispensing rates by contraceptive type and by age-group (≤18 years old, 18<age≤25, 25<age≤35, >35).
Dispensing of all contraceptives decreased compared to expected dispensing numbers: -2.0% for OC, -5.3% for EC, -9.5% for LNG-IUS, -8.6% for C-IUD, and -16.4% for implant. This decrease in the dispensing of contraceptives was observed in all age-groups, but mainly concerned women under the age of 18 years (-22% for OC, -10% for EC, -37.2% for LNG-IUS, -36.4% for C-IUD, -26.4% for implant) and those aged 18-25 (-5.1% for OC, -11.9% for EC, -18.1% for LNG-IUS, -15.9% for C-IUD, -17.6% for implants).
Our study showed that the dispensing of contraceptives in France was markedly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prescriptions for long-acting contraceptive use and women under the age of 25 years were the most substantially impacted. Ensuring access to contraceptive methods during health emergencies must be a public health policy priority.
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