Contraceptive Pearl: Breast Cancer and Contraception

For many years, clinicians and patients were concerned that hormonal contraceptives might raise the risk of developing breast cancer. Fortunately, studies indicate that using hormonal contraception does not contribute to breast cancer. The CDC and WHO give hormonal contraceptives a “1” rating for women with a family history of breast cancer. Even women with breast cancer susceptibility genes may use hormonal contraceptives without restrictions.

Hormonal contraception includes combined oral contraceptive, contraceptive patch, vaginal ring, progestin-only pill, injection, and hormone eliciting IUDs.

However, for women who have breast cancer currently, all hormonal methods are considered unacceptable.  Non-hormonal contraception, including barrier methods (diaphragms, condoms) and Paragard (copper IUD), have been deemed acceptable in this population without any restrictions.  

For women whose breast cancer was diagnosed over 5 years ago, and who have no evidence of current disease, the CDC gives hormonal contraceptives a “3” rating.  Theoretical or proven risks in this population outweigh the advantages of the contraceptive. Non-hormonal methods may be used without any restrictions.


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Helpful Resources

Medical Eligibility for Initiating Contraception
Your Birth Control Choices Fact Sheet
Contraceptive Pearl: Non-Hormonal Contraception



Casey PM, Faubion SS, MacLaughlin KL, Long ME, Pruthi S. Caring for the breast cancer survivor’s health and well-being. World J Clin Oncol. 2014 Oct 10;5(4):693-704.PubMed PMID: 25302171; PMCID: PMC4129533.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United States medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use.

Klein DA, Arnold JJ, Reese ES. Provision of Contraception: Key Recommendations from the CDC. Am Fam Physician. 2015 May 1;91(9):625-33. PubMed PMID: 25955737.

Patel A, Roston A, Uy A, Radeke E, Roston A, et al. Reproductive health and endocrine disruption in women with breast cancer: a pilot study. Support Care Cancer. 2015 Feb;23(2):411-8. PMID: 25120011.



The Reproductive Health Access Project does not accept funding from pharmaceutical companies. We do not promote specific brands of medication or contraception. The information in the Contraceptive Pearls is unbiased, based on science alone.

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