London: Over 80 per cent of people are not planning to conceive during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, perhaps putting to rest suggestions that the lockdown could lead to a rise in birth numbers, say researchers.
The main reasons that led people to this decision included worries related to future economic difficulties (58 per cent) and any potential consequences on pregnancy (58 per cent) due to the disease.
Looking at parenthood desires during the ongoing pandemic crisis in Italy, a team of experts, led by the University of Florence, carried out 1,482 online interviews. Their results, published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, show that some 1,214 (81.9 per cent) did not intend to conceive during the pandemic crisis.
Moreover, of the 268 participants who were planning to have a child before the pandemic, over one-third (37.3 per cent) then abandoned the intention.
The questionnaire, carried out in the third week of the lockdown in Italy, surveyed 944 women (63.7 per cent) and 538 men (36.3 per cent) aged between 18-46 years, and in a stable heterosexual relationship for at least twelve months.
“In our study sample, the majority of participants gave significantly higher total scores to their mental wellbeing before the pandemic, while lowest scores were reported in the answers referred to the COVID-19 period,” said study author Elisabetta Micelli.
“We aimed to evaluate if pandemic-related concerns and worries are affecting the desire for parenthood in couples who were already planning to have a child or if quarantine is encouraging reproductive desire,” Micelli added.
The researchers found that the main reasons that led people to not wanting to conceive included worries related to future economic difficulties and consequences on pregnancy.
Nevertheless, despite most people not wanting to conceive during the pandemic, 60 per cent of the 268 correspondents already planning to conceive have carried on in their quest – with the experts suggesting that the fear of infertility potentially occurring in the future, outweighs the worries of the consequences of COVID-19 infection.
Additionally, some 140 (11.5 per cent) people, in fact, revealed a new desire for parenthood during the quarantine. Specifically, the wish was mainly expressed by women.
The study also measured people’s reported levels of sexual activity. 712 respondents (66.3 per cent) who did not experience the desire for parenting before the pandemic, nor during, reported no reduction in sexual intercourses – with no significant differences among genders.