The present study reports on contraceptive use, methods used, and counseling received on contraceptive issues for women with congenital heart disease and provides a brief review of current knowledge of the risks in relation to the different cardiac situations encountered with these specific patients. A total of 536 consecutive adult women with congenital heart disease (median age 29 years) were recruited from 2 tertiary care centers. They underwent a clinical assessment and completed a questionnaire regarding their contraceptive use. Oral contraceptives, condoms, and intrauterine devices were the most commonly used methods. Pregnancy occurred in almost every tenth woman despite the use of contraception. We identified a substantial number of women (20%) who were presently using contraceptive methods that were contraindicated for their specific cardiac condition. Additionally, a high proportion of patients (28%), in the group with high pregnancy-associated risks, were not using contraception despite having a sexual relationship. In our study, 43% of the women had not been counseled about contraception, and 48% had not been informed of the pregnancy-related risks by their treating physician. In conclusion, timely and competent counseling about contraception is important for women with congenital heart disease. Collaboration between cardiologists and gynecologists should be strengthened. Failure to give adequate family planning advice to this patient group could have hazardous consequences, causing an unnecessary risk to mother and child.
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