Females with sickle cell disease now have a life expectancy that extends well into and beyond their reproductive years. Pregnancy and childbirth are accompanied by high morbidity and mortality in this population, rendering contraception a critical part of their health care.
We approached adult female patients of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania hematology clinic who were of reproductive age (ages 18 through 45) and carried a diagnosis of sickle cell disease. We evaluated contraceptive method uptake and method characteristic preferences, as well as other reproductive history, and compared contraceptive uptake rates to that from female respondent data from the National Survey of Family Growth (2017-2019).
Of 95 eligible patients, we completed surveys with 48 participants (response rate of 51%). Over half (n=27, 56%) of participants were not currently using any form of contraception-double the rate of the general United States population (25%). The most common contraceptives currently used were the depot medroxyprogesterone (DMPA) injection (n=6, 13%) and the progestin intrauterine device (IUD) (n=6, 13%). DMPA uptake was significantly higher, and permanent contraceptive and oral contraceptive pill uptake significantly lower, among these participants with sickle cell disease compared to the general United States population. Participants’ preferred contraceptive characteristics included effectiveness (n=39, 81%), control over when to use the contraceptive (n=39, 81%), and lack of side effects (n=38, 79%).
Contraceptive uptake was significantly lower and method mix different among females with sickle cell disease compared to the general United States population. Further research is needed on contraceptive safety, non-contraceptive benefits, and contraceptive decision-making for females with sickle cell disease.
This study sheds light on the contraceptive choices and preferences of females with sickle cell disease, who are at disproportionate risk for pregnancy complications. In order to maximize the reproductive health of females with sickle cell disease, we must consider how their disease interacts with contraception and better understand how they approach contraceptive decision-making.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.