Clinical Edge

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Contraception & Pregnancy Intention in Obese Women

Women’s Health Issues; ePub 2017 Nov 13; Nguyen, et al

Women with severe obesity are at greater risk of unintended pregnancy and are less likely to be using contraception than normal weight women, a recent study found. The study combined data from the 2006 through 2010 and 2001 through 2013 National Survey of Family Growth. Pregnancy intention and current contraceptive use were compared across body mass index (BMI) categories: normal (18.5–24.9 kg/m kg/m2), overweight (25.0–29.9), obese class 1 (30.0–34.9 kg/m2), class 2 (35.0–39.9 kg/m2), and class 3 (≥40 kg/m2, severe obesity). BMI data were available for 9,848 nonpregnant, sexually active women who reported not wanting to become pregnant. Researchers found:

  • Women with class 3 obesity had significantly greater odds of mistimed (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.67) or unwanted (aOR, 1.96) pregnancy compared with normal weight women.
  • Women with class 2 or 3 obesity were more likely not to be using contraception.
  • Women with class 2 obesity were more likely to be using long-acting reversible contraceptive methods and sterilization over short-acting hormonal methods; however, this association was not observed among women with class 3 obesity.


Nguyen BT, Elia JL, Ha CY, Kaneshiro BE. Pregnancy intention and contraceptive use among women by class of obesity: Results from the 2006-2010 and 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth. [Published online ahead of print November 13, 2017]. Women’s Health Issues. doi:10.1016/j.whi.2017.09.010.