A couple wears protective masks while taking a selfie at the Eiffel Tower last week, after a lockdown was imposed in Paris to slow the spread of the coronavirus.     REUTERS
A couple wears protective masks while taking a selfie at the Eiffel Tower last week, after a lockdown was imposed in Paris to slow the spread of the coronavirus. REUTERS

It’s 2033. Will the millennials have produced the quaranteens during the global lockdown?

By Frank Chemaly Time of article published Mar 28, 2020

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Durban - With 21 days at home, and little to do, many South Africans might take the opportunity to get intimate with their partners.

And doctors fear we’re going to produce a baby boom come December.

The Indian Economist has already coined the phrase for the next generation. In 2033, it says, we’ll be talking about the quaranteens.

But is sex safe? While doctors said there was no evidence the virus was transmitted in semen, they noted that kissing was often an integral part of sex and you would be in close contact with your partner. But sex with someone in a committed relationship could actually be beneficial, as long as all precautions are met.

Durban doctors could not stress enough the need to be responsible, especially regarding the transmission of HIV.

During the lockdown in China, and restrictions in Australia, condom sales soared, while the South African government specifically mentioned condoms in its list of goods included in health products for sale during the lockdown.

GP Dr Tanya Triani, of the Florida Road Family Practice, said as long as you took the normal precautions and you were both healthy, there should be no problem.

Triani stressed while the couple should be in a committed relationship and HIV negative, it was also a chance to reconnect as a couple and spend quality time together.

“If both partners are in a stable relationship, sex during lockdown would be a good way to reconnect as a couple. It could be a good stress reliever but the usual precautions of safe sex and contraception must apply,” she said.

Professor Mergan Naidoo, of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s department of family medicine, stressed the need to continue the use of contraception.

Regarding a baby boom, she said it was “obviously plausible” but it was important to send the right message.

“In a family environment, it’s important to decide beforehand otherwise you may have an unwanted pregnancy. In stable relationships you should be having these discussions and make decisions on contraception in advance.

“I expect people will be staying with their spouses so there may be fewer opportunities for promiscuity, less opportunity for chance encounters. And that is where the condom is most useful. During shutdown people will have access to contraception advice. Your GP and primary health care are available.”

Naidoo was concerned people might not have taken precautions. “We see an increase in the birth rate every September. People go home on holiday in December and there is more opportunity for intimate relations. So it’s plausible that in December we’ll see something similar,” she said

She lamented a culture in South Africa that ignored contraception. “Contraception is still not as widely used as we would like - even condoms are not used consistently. It’s something we’ve been preaching for two decades. Our biggest concern is around HIV and we haven’t had the necessary impact we would like,” she said.

She also raised the issue that in many households, a woman may not want more children while the man insists.

“In the local context of gender disparities, women don’t always have a say in their reproductive health. If you’re not planning a child later this year, you should use contraception,” she said.

Dr Mala Panday, of the family planning unit at King Dinuzulu Hospital, reassured South Africans that family planning was an essential service and was available during lockdown.

“Our patients will be given extra medication as need be,” she said. “While we encourage long action means of contraception because they are more effective, condoms will be available at the clinic and access to them will be fast tracked. We want our patients to be in and out as soon as possible,” she said.

Panday also stressed people not to forget about HIV and STDs. “The doors at your nearest primary health care facility are open throughout,” she said.

The Independent on Saturday

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