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Reproductive life plan
A reproductive life plan (RLP) is a set of personal goals regarding your sexual and reproductive health that includes the personal choice of having or not having children.
Every female with congenital or acquired heart disease needs to make a reproductive life plan based on their own values, goals, and resources. Reproductive health planning is a life time commitment beginning in adolescence and continues throughout your life.
Because pregnancy places an additional burden on your heart, it is important for you to understand the risk of pregnancy, and the importance of avoiding an unplanned pregnancy.
Menarche is the onset of menstrual periods. Compared to adolescent girls without heart disease (12.5 yrs), menarche occurs slightly later (13.4 yrs) in girls with congenital heart disease. For cyanotic females women menarche is later at 13.9 yrs.
Women with cyanosis are also be more likely to have irregular menstrual periods. All women 18 years of age and older who continue to have irregular bleeding , and particularly those that are sexually active should have annual gynecologic examinations.
Periodic gynecological examinations are important for sexually active teens in order to provide continued counseling for and/or prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), pregnancy and to discuss birth control options that are safe for women with heart disease.
Contraception. Birth control: It’s up to me!
Some forms of birth control are not safe for women with certain forms of congenital or acquired heart disease, therefore we encourage women to discuss the various contraceptive options with her health care provider to select the safest and most appropriate contraceptive.
In general, women with complex heart disease, cyanosis, or pulmonary hypertension, should not use birth control pills that contain estrogen because there is an increased risk of forming blood clots. Depo-Provera and progesterone-only birth control pills may be better alternatives in some patients.
More information on teen pregnancy prevention can be found in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.