Contraceptive use among women with a history of bariatric surgery: a systematic review

Contraception. 2010 Jul;82(1):86-94. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2010.02.008. Epub 2010 Mar 29.


Background: Weight loss after bariatric surgery often improves fertility but can pose substantial risks to maternal and fetal outcomes. Women who have undergone a bariatric surgical procedure are currently advised to delay conception for up to 2 years.

Study design: We conducted a systematic review of the literature, from database (PubMed) inception through February 2009, to evaluate evidence on the safety and effectiveness of contraceptive use among women with a history of bariatric surgery.

Results: From 29 articles, five met review inclusion criteria. One prospective, noncomparative study reported 2 pregnancies among 9 (22%) oral contraceptive (OC) users following biliopancreatic diversion, and one descriptive study reported no pregnancies among an unidentified number of women taking OCs following laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. Of two pharmacokinetic studies, one found lower plasma levels of norethisterone and levonorgestrel among women having had a jejunoileal bypass, as compared to nonoperated, normal-weight controls. The other study found no difference in plasma levels of D-norgestrel between women having a jejunoileal bypass of either 1:3 or 3:1 ratio between the length of jejunum and ileum left in continuity, but women with a 1:3 ratio had significantly higher plasma levels of D-norgestrel than extremely obese controls not operated upon.

Conclusions: Evidence regarding OC effectiveness following a bariatric surgical procedure is quite limited, although no substantial decrease in effectiveness was identified from available studies. Evidence on failure rates for other contraceptive methods and evidence on safety for all contraceptive methods was not identified.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bariatric Surgery*
  • Contraceptives, Oral* / administration & dosage
  • Contraceptives, Oral* / adverse effects
  • Contraceptives, Oral* / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Gastric Bypass
  • Gastroplasty
  • Humans
  • Levonorgestrel / blood
  • Obesity / surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • PubMed
  • Weight Loss


  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Levonorgestrel