Immediate versus delayed postpartum use of levonorgestrel contraceptive implants: a randomized controlled trial in Uganda

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Use of long-acting, highly effective contraception has the potential to improve women's ability to avoid short interpregnancy intervals, which are associated with an increased risk of maternal morbidity and mortality, and preterm delivery. In Uganda, contraceptive implants are not routinely available during the immediate postpartum period.

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study was to compare the proportion of women using levonorgestrel contraceptive implants at 6 months after delivery in women randomized to immediate or delayed insertion.

STUDY DESIGN:

This was a randomized controlled trial among women in Kampala, Uganda. Women who desired contraceptive implants were randomly assigned to insertion of a 2-rod contraceptive implant system containing 75 mg of levonorgestrel immediately following delivery (within 5 days of delivery and before discharge from the hospital) or delayed insertion (6 weeks postpartum). The primary outcome was implant utilization at 6 months postpartum.

RESULTS:

From June to October 2015, 205 women were randomized, 103 to the immediate group and 102 to the delayed group. Ninety-three percent completed the 6 month follow-up visit. At 6 months, implant use was higher in the immediate group compared with the delayed group (97% vs 68%; P < .001), as was the use of any highly effective contraceptive (98% vs 81%; P = .001). Women in the immediate group were more satisfied with the timing of implant placement. If given the choice, 81% of women in the immediate group and 63% of women in the delayed group would choose the same timing of placement again (P = .01). There were no serious adverse events in either group.

CONCLUSION:

Offering women the option of initiating contraceptive implants in the immediate postpartum period has the potential to increase contraceptive utilization, decrease unwanted pregnancies, prevent short interpregnancy intervals, and help women achieve their reproductive goals.

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