Return to sexual activity and modern family planning use in the extended postpartum period: an analysis of findings from seventeen countries

Afr J Reprod Health. 2010 Dec;14(4 Spec no.):72-9.


Unintended pregnancies can lead to poor maternal and child health outcomes. Family planning use during the first year postpartum has the potential to significantly reduce at least some of these unintended pregnancies. This paper examines the relationship of menses return, breastfeeding status, and postpartum duration on return to sexual activity and use of modern family planning among postpartum women. This paper presents results from a secondary data analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys from 17 countries. For postpartum women, the return of menses, breastfeeding status, and postpartum duration are significantly associated with return to sexual activity in at least 10 out of the 17 countries but not consistently associated with family planning use. Only menses return had a significant association with use of modern family planning in the majority of countries. These findings point to the importance of education about pregnancy risk prior to menses return.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Developing Countries
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstruation
  • Middle Aged
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sexual Behavior*