Combined Hormonal Contraception during Breastfeeding—A Survey of Physician’s Recommendations

Lior Segev, Gideon Weitzman, Goldie Katz-Samson, Abraham O. Samson, Guy Shrem, Naama Srebnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Until breastfeeding is established, progesterone-only pill (POP) use is preferable over combined hormonal contraception (CHC), as the latter potentially reduces milk production. Yet, POPs are often associated with breakthrough bleeding (BTB), and irregular spotting is often a reason for their cessation. Conversely, CHC is less associated with BTB but is not usually prescribed, even if breastfeeding has been established, despite its verified safety profile. Here, we surveyed physicians’ perception of CHC safety during breastfeeding through an online questionnaire (N = 112). Physicians were asked if they would prescribe CHC to a woman three months postpartum, breastfeeding fully, and suffering from BTB while using POPs. Half of the physicians responded they would, 28% would not until six months postpartum, while 14% would not during breastfeeding. Of the physicians that would prescribe CHC, 58% would without any reservation, 24% would only after discussing milk reduction with the patient, 9% would use a pill with a lower hormonal dose, and 9% would only prescribe CHC 3 months postpartum. The main risk associated with CHC during breastfeeding, as perceived by physicians, is a potential decrease in breast milk production (88%). While some physicians consider CHC unsafe during breastfeeding, most health organizations consider CHC compatible with breastfeeding 5–6 weeks after birth. Thus, there is a gap in the attitude and knowledge of physicians about the safety profile of CHC, and only half acknowledge that the risk of BTB justifies the use of CHC instead of POPs while breastfeeding three months postpartum. We highlight the importance of physician’s education, advocate CHC breastfeeding compatibility if breastfeeding has been established (i.e., 30 days postpartum), and underline the importance of discussing the option of CHC with patients in case POPs have unwanted side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7110
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Volume12
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

Keywords

  • breastfeeding
  • combined hormonal contraception
  • progesterone-only pill

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