Background: Reproductive-aged women are, according to American and European guidelines, recommended to avoid pregnancy for 12-24 months after bariatric surgery. Oral contraceptives may have suboptimal efficacy after malabsorptive bariatric procedures.
Aim: The aim of this study was to assess contraceptive use pre- and postoperatively in women who underwent bariatric surgery in two obesity clinics in The Netherlands. Also, the recall of contraceptive and pregnancy counseling was investigated.
Methods: A validated questionnaire was performed among women aged 18-45 years who underwent bariatric surgery from October 2017 through August 2018.
Results: In total, 230 women were eligible for final analysis. Postoperatively, 60% used safe contraception, 16.1% unsafe contraception, and 23.9% no contraception. In this study, 43.7% of women using a potential unsafe contraceptive method preoperatively switched to a safe method of contraception postoperatively (p < 0.0001). Only 62.6% of women confirmed to have received contraceptive counseling, mainly preoperatively. The odds ratio for receiving contraceptive counseling and using safe contraceptive methods compared with not receiving contraceptive counseling was 2.20 (95% CI, 1.27-3.79; p = 0.005). Eighty-three percent confirmed that they have received counseling regarding delaying a pregnancy, and 52.6% were familiar with the recommendation to avoid a pregnancy for 24 months postoperatively.
Conclusions: In our study, 60% of women are using safe contraception postoperatively. Contraceptive counseling is suboptimal as 62.6% recall receiving counseling. Those who confirmed receiving counseling were more likely to use safe contraception after bariatric surgery. More counseling and monitoring in the postoperative and in the outpatient setting is recommended.
Keywords: Bariatric surgery; Contraception; Counseling; Gastric bypass; Pregnancy.