Periods, contraception and pregnancy

  • Coming into hospital

    You may be worried that you will be due to have your period at the same time that you are in hospital for your heart operation. If you keep a record of the first date of your last period, it will help work out when your next period is due and whether it will fall at the same time as your operation. It is still worth doing this even if your periods are irregular.
    If your period does happen to fall at the same time as your operation then your GP can prescribe a tablet to delay it. The tablet is called Medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera) and is a progestogen-only tablet and so is safe to take before having heart surgery. You need to start taking it 3-4 days before you expect your period to start and carry on while you are in hospital. Once you are discharged home you can stop taking it and your period usually starts 3-7 days after.
    If you are on the combined pill (this has oestrogen as well as progesterone in), it is best to stop it at least 4 weeks before your operation to reduce the risk of blood clots. You can change to a progestogen-only pill such as Cerelle as you do not need to stop taking this and can continue while you are in hospital.

    It is very important to avoid getting pregnant while you are on the waiting list for your operation. If you are sexually active, a safe form of contraception is advisable. If you think that you could be pregnant then you should take a pregnancy test and let us know if the result is positive. All girls aged 12 years and over coming into the Leeds Children’s Hospital for an operation or procedure under a general anaesthetic are asked to carry out a pregnancy test. This is done on the day of admission as part of the routine tests. For more Information Click Here


    It is especially important for girls and women with congenital heart disease to avoid an unplanned pregnancy as it may put extra strain on your heart. Contraception advice will depend on your heart condition. The combined pill should be avoided in some cases, e.g. if you have low oxygen saturations, a Fontan circulation or are on warfarin, due to the risk of blood clots. Please speak to your CNS team or consultant to find out if this applies to you. Oral progesterone-only contraception can be used with any heart condition.


    Periods may be heavier and last longer than usual when you are taking warfarin. If this becomes difficult for you, then make an appointment to see your GP as there are treatments that can help. If they are particularly troublesome, a referral to a gynaecologist may be recommended.

    Please email the CCNS team if you would like any more advice: ccns.lgi@nhs.net or the adult congenital nurses if you have moved to the adult service: