The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundlyÂ led toÂ restructuring of healthcare services causing disruptions to reproductive health services across the globe. Past studies have already established that large-scale disruptionsÂ affect womenâ€™s reproductive lives. Therefore, it needs no rocket science to understand that the impact of Covid-19Â has far reaching consequences on reproductive health ofÂ women. To understand how coronavirus disease is impacting reproductive health of women, Rising Kashmir Correspondent, Mir Baseerat spoke to Dr. Sami Jan, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, SKIMS.
What is meant by reproductive health?
Reproductive health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters related to the reproductive system and to its functions and process.
It addresses human sexuality and productive processes, functions and systems at all stages of life and implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying ,safe reproductive life and have the capability to reproduce and freedom to decide when and how often to do so.
Q: How do we take care of reproductive health during Covid-19 pandemic?
A: Taking care of reproductive health is a must and some proactive steps should be taken to maintain it. Exercising and eating healthy is the very first step to taking care of oneâ€™s reproductive health. Every year worldwide, around 2, 90,000 mothers and 3 million babies die at the time of birth. 3 million infants are still born every year.
The main cause of maternal deaths, preventive or remedial interventions have been well known for many years, and nearly all of these vulnerable mothers could be saved at little extra cost, lives would be saved if women had a choice about becoming pregnant and once pregnant, if they and their babies had access to essential health, services that provide evidence based , technologically appropriate, and affordable interventions even in the poorest of countries.
The pandemic is putting enormous pressure on health systems around the world. Maintaining a balanced diet high in fibre and protein and less in carbohydrates and fats is a must.
Increased weight affects our hormone balance and impairs fertility. Exercising takes care of the same, and also contributes to overall health â€“ physical, reproductive, and mental.
Mental health also plays an important role in maintaining reproductive health. The advice to not take stress seems easier said than done, but make efforts towards your own happiness. Indulge in activities that help release negative feelings, and surround you with positivity.
Covid-19 has overwhelmed health systems and to balance the demands of responding directly to Covid-19, while simultaneously engaging in strategic planning and coordinated action to maintain essential health since delivery has become difficult. The provision of many services has become more challenging.
Q: Are pregnant women at higher risk from Covid-19?
A: Pregnant women or recently pregnant women who are older, overweight and have pre existingÂ of medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes seem to have an increased risk of developing severe Covid-19 once infected.
When pregnant women develop severe disease, they also seem to more often require care in Intensive Care Units than non pregnant women of reproductive age. It is therefore important that they take precautions to protect themselves against Covid-19 infection and report possible symptoms to their health care provider.
Q: Does Covid-19 disease impact breastfeeding?
A: Transmission of active Covid-19 virus and breastfeeding has not been detected till date, so there is no reason to avoid or stop breastfeeding. In addition to the impact of Covid-19 on maternity services and breastfeeding support, there is a growing evidence that the pandemic has caused significant stress to breastfeeding mothers, with high proportions showing symptoms of anxiety and depression compelled with fears of infection, increased anxiety can lead many women to breastfeed or pump breast milk less often than before the pandemic, or to stop breastfeeding completely.
Q: Does Covid-19 infection disrupt menstrual cycle?Â Â Â Â
A: All types of menstrual disturbances including late periods, missed periods, irregular cycles, spotting, and heavy flows have been reported amid Covid-19 pandemic. Delayed periods or irregular flow are often associated with stress and anxiety.
Q: Is Covid-19 vaccination contradicting during pregnancy, lactation and periods?
A: No, Covid-19 vaccine is not contradicting.
Q: Is there any connection between Covid-19 vaccine and infertility?
A: There is absolutely no evidence that Covid-19 vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men.