Contraceptive Pearl: Contraception and Bariatric Surgery

As the number of bariatric surgical procedures among reproductive-aged women increases, contraceptive counseling before surgery rises in importance. Family planning is especially important among adolescents, as 12.8% of adolescents will get pregnant soon after bariatric surgery as compared to only 6.4% of the general adolescent population.

Some bariatric procedures (gastric bypass, biliopancreatic diversion) affect absorption of nutrients and medications, while other procedures (laparoscopic gastric banding) affect stomach size. According to the U.S Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use, women who have had a malabsorptive bariatric procedure should use oral contraceptives (OCPs) with caution. Because post-surgical changes in drug absorption place these women at higher risk of unintended pregnancy, OCPs get a “3” rating in this group of women. In contrast, women who have had a stomach-banding procedure (such as a lap-band) may use OCPs without restriction. Non-oral contraceptive methods carry no special caution among women who have had either type of bariatric surgery.

An intrauterine device (IUD) or implant is a good choice after bariatric surgery. Insertion prior to weight loss surgery is ideal, as it prevents unintended pregnancies that may occur when patients lose weight and regain fertility.


Medical Eligibility for Initiating Contraception 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use, 2013: Adapted from the World Health Organization Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use, 2nd Edition. June 21, 2013; 62(RR05): 1-46. 

Kominiarek MA. Preparing for and managing a pregnancy after bariatric surgery. Seminars in Perinatology. Dec 2011. 35(6); 356-361. 


Free CME Credit

To earn 1 free CME credit, all you have to do is take a short quiz based on the content in this month’s Contraceptive Pearl. Answer 2 of the 3 questions correctly, and you’ll receive a certificate documenting your CME credit. It’s that easy! CME granted by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Just click on this CME Quiz and get started!



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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