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COVID-19 may be affecting youngsters’ sexual, reproductive health, says study

*Researchers cite extended family time, limited resources as biggest concerns during pandemic

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to the outbreak of the damaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its wide-ranging socio-economic and health consequences on millions of individuals worldwide, a new study by researchers from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health has found that the virus could be affecting young people’s sexual and reproductive health.

The researchers stated that quarantine has limited access to reproductive healthcare, such as abortions, STD tests and contraception, for many young people, according to report.

It was learnt that isolation has changed the way that young people typically socialise and go about their regular routines, which can put a strain on both romantic and platonic relationships in the process.

Dr. David Bell, a researcher, said: “Young people are supposed to be gaining independence at this time in life, so for those who have had to return home after a period of being away, maintaining relationships with friends and romantic partners at a distance may be particularly challenging.”

“Our view that constant digital connection was negative is now a positive for them at this time.”

On losing independence, the researchers clarified that extended family time and limited resources during the pandemic are the two biggest causes for concern when thinking about young people’s reproductive health.

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Telemedicine services have expanded since the start of COVID-19, and many of these kinds of visits allow for STD testing or treatment and birth control.

These services are always important, but they are essential during the pandemic when the availability of necessary services has been compromised.

Virtual services have been incredibly beneficial for LGBTQ youth, who may be struggling at home with unsupportive family members, said the researchers.

Though many in-person support services have had to close, and the researchers worry about the effect quarantine can have, there are still digital sources available for young people to connect with one another and seek support.

Nonetheless, report indicated that the researchers’ work as well revealed the limits of telemedicine services.

They learned that abortion access continues to be hard to come by in many states, as legislators are still working to limit that accessibility even further.

Yet, these are uncertain times for everyone, and telemedicine certainly comes with limitations, the researchers predict that these services could continue to grow in popularity beyond the pandemic, particularly for young people and their reproductive health.

Researcher Leslie Kantor said: “If telemedicine remains as widely available as it has been during the Coronavirus pandemic, access to sexual and reproductive healthcare may actually improve for young people.”

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