CDC Issues Recommendations on Contraceptive Safety

The US Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use, 2010 offers guidance to physicians and health care professionals when providing family planning counseling and services to women, especially to those with specific existing medical conditions.

“These new CDC contraception guidelines have considerable implications for ob-gyns in the US because we are the primary physicians for the majority of reproductive-age women,” said Richard N. Waldman, MD, President of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

The CDC recommendations were adapted from the guidance previously developed by the World Health Organization and will be regularly updated to reflect the latest published evidence. The US version adapts some of the guidance for better alignment with recommendations from ACOG and to better fit the US health care system.

The new recommendations will help providers and patients in choosing a safe and effective method of contraception, given each individual’s unique health circumstances. Approximately 1,800 combinations of contraceptive methods and medical conditions are given a rating of 1 to 4 in terms of safety, with a 1 rating having no restrictions and a 4 rating representing a condition that has an unacceptable health risk with the use of a specific contraceptive. The CDC recommendations note that, in addition to safety concerns, determining an appropriate contraceptive method also should take into consideration availability, acceptability, and personal preference.

“About half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned,” said Dr. Waldman. “These new recommendations should help improve contraceptive counseling and encourage more widespread use of effective contraception. This is particularly important for women with certain medical conditions for whom an unplanned pregnancy could be especially risky. The bottom line is that most women, including those with chronic diseases, can safely use most types of contraception.”

The full recommendations are available at Updates and supporting information for clinicians are available at

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The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 53,000 members, ACOG strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care.