Knowledge and use of lactational amenorrhoea as a family planning method among adolescent mothers in Uganda: a secondary analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys between 2006 and 2016

BMJ Open. 2022 Feb 22;12(2):e054609. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-054609.


Objective: To assess the level of knowledge and use of the lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM) among adolescents in Uganda between 2006 and 2016 using nationally representative data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS).

Design: Cross-sectional design involving analysis of three DHS (2006, 2011, and 2016) in Uganda.

Setting: The data collection took place in Uganda. The DHS are nationally representative surveys on a wide range of indicators including contraception knowledge and use.

Participants: A total of 1948 (2006), 2026 (2011) and 4276 (2016) adolescents (15-19 years) and 1662 (2006), 1666 (2011) and 3782 (2016) young women (20-24 years) were included.

Primary outcome measure: Use of LAM among adolescents and young women with a live birth within 6 months before each survey.

Results: In 2016, less than 1.0% (95% CI: 0.2% to 3.5%) of eligible adolescents correctly used LAM, and 56.3% (95% CI: 48.8% to 63.6%) were passively benefitting from LAM. The median duration of postpartum amenorrhoea (PPA) among adolescents in 2016 was 6.9 months, declining from 8.3 months in 2006. Compared with adolescents (56.7%), eligible young women had higher knowledge of LAM (64.1%) and higher median PPA duration (8.0 months) in 2016. The percentage of eligible adolescents who met the LAM criteria irrespective of whether they reported LAM use (were protected by LAM) decreased from 76.4% (95% CI: 66.5% to 84.0%) in 2006 to 57.2% (95% CI: 49.5% to 64.6%) in 2016. More than 50.0% (95% CI: 49.2% to 63.8%) of eligible adolescents were aware of LAM in 2016, increasing from 6.0% (95% CI: 2.5% to 13.8) in 2006.

Conclusion: Despite increasing awareness of LAM, reported and correct use of LAM was low among adolescents who could benefit from this method in Uganda, and declining over time. Support for adolescents to harness the benefits of correct LAM use should be increased. Additional research is needed to better understand the dynamics of LAM use in adolescents, including the transition to use of other modern contraceptive methods.

Keywords: public health; reproductive medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Mothers
  • Amenorrhea*
  • Contraception
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Family Planning Services* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Uganda