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The importance of taking birth control after bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery can help lower the risk of pregnancy-related complications that overweight and obese women often face when becoming pregnant.

Updated: January 14, 2021
birth control and surgery
By MBL Featured Blogger: Karen Eisenbraun
Originally Posted: October 6, 2020

Birth Control and Surgery

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Bariatric surgery can help lower the risk of pregnancy-related complications that overweight and obese women often face when becoming pregnant such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, high birth-weight babies, preeclampsia, and delivery by Cesarean-section (C-section). 

Within the first year of having weight-loss surgery, it’s best to avoid becoming pregnant until your weight becomes more stabilized. Most weight-loss patients lose much of their excess weight within 18 months following surgery; plus, 12 to 18 months is an ideal timeframe in which patients can learn to adjust to their new, healthy lifestyle. 

During the first 18 months following weight-loss surgery, women must take extra precautions with birth control methods to prevent themselves from becoming pregnant. Some weight-loss surgeries such as gastric bypass surgery result in malabsorption, which means even birth control pills could fail to be absorbed into the bloodstream — leading to early, unplanned pregnancy. 

Additionally, a recent study published in the journal The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist found that bariatric surgery patients who become pregnant within 12 months of undergoing surgery are at higher risk for experiencing spontaneous miscarriage than those who wait until after 18 months to become pregnant. Contributing factors to miscarriage include rapid weight loss and malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients. 

According to the Associated Press, birth control pills are currently the most common form of contraceptive for women who live in the United States. To lower the risk for health complications associated with pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued new warning guidelines that state that women who have had bariatric surgery may be unable to absorb some or all of the birth control pill’s main active ingredient that is responsible for preventing pregnancy.

To prevent pregnancy from occurring during the first 18 months following weight-loss surgery, patients are advised to consult with their bariatric surgeon, physician, and ob-gyn to discuss the best methods of birth control that are safe for use and that will effectively lower the risk for pregnancy.

If you are interested in weight loss surgery, check out MBL’s Ultimate Guide To Weight Loss Surgery.

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Karen Eisenbraun is a certified holistic nutrition consultant and writer with a background in digital marketing. She has written extensively on the topics of nutrition and holistic health for many leading websites.

Karen received her nutrition certification from the American College of Healthcare Sciences in 2012. She follows a ketogenic diet and practices intermittent fasting. Karen advocates a whole foods approach to nutrition and believes in empowering yourself with information that allows you to make smarter decisions about your health.

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