Contraception after pregnancy

Anna Glasier, Siladitya Bhattacharya, Hans Evers, Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson, Sarah Hardman, Oskari Heikinheimo, Carlo Lavecchia, Edgardo Somigliana

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Whatever the outcome, pregnancy provides the opportunity to offer effective contraception to couples motivated to avoid another pregnancy. This narrative review summarizes the evidence for health providers, drawing attention to current guidelines on which contraceptive methods can be used, and when they should be started after pregnancy, whatever its outcome. Fertility returns within 1 month of the end of pregnancy unless breastfeeding occurs. Breastfeeding, which itself suppresses fertility after childbirth, influences both when contraception should start and what methods can be used. Without breastfeeding, effective contraception should be started as soon as possible if another pregnancy is to be avoided. Interpregnancy intervals of at least 6 months after miscarriage and 1-2 years after childbirth have long been recommended by the World Health Organization in order to reduce the chance of adverse pregnancy outcome. Recent research suggests that this may not be necessary, at least for healthy women <35 years old. Most contraceptive methods can be used after pregnancy regardless of the outcome. Because of an increased risk of venous thromboembolism associated with estrogen-containing contraceptives, initiation of these methods should be delayed until 6 weeks after childbirth. More research is required to settle the questions over the use of combined hormonal contraception during breastfeeding, the use of injectable progestin-only contraceptives before 6 weeks after childbirth, and the use of both hormonal and intrauterine contraception after gestational trophoblastic disease. The potential impact on the risk of ectopic pregnancy of certain contraceptive methods often confuses healthcare providers. The challenges involved in providing effective, seamless service provision of contraception after pregnancy are numerous, even in industrialized countries. Nevertheless, the clear benefits demonstrate that it is worth the effort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1378-1385
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • childbirth
  • contraception
  • ectopic
  • gestational trophoblastic disease
  • induced abortion
  • miscarriage
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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  • Cite this

    Glasier, A., Bhattacharya, S., Evers, H., Gemzell-Danielsson, K., Hardman, S., Heikinheimo, O., Lavecchia, C., & Somigliana, E. (2019). Contraception after pregnancy. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 98(11), 1378-1385.