Hormonal Contraception and Menopausal Hormone Therapy: A Reference for Orthopaedic Surgeons


  • Isabel Prado, MD Duke University Medical Center Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Anne C. Ford, MD Duke University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Anna Camille Moreno, DO, MSCP University of Utah Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Thorsten M. Seyler, MD, PhD Duke University Medical Center Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Harris Slone, MD Medical University of South Carolina Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Andra James, MD, MPH Duke University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Jocelyn R. Wittstein, MD Duke University Medical Center Department of Orthopaedic Surgery




thromboembolism, exogenous estrogen, hormones, contraceptive, vte, orthopaedic, acl, arthroscopy, perioperative, hormonal contraceptive, OCP


BACKGROUND: Exogenous estrogen is a double-edged sword in the realm of orthopaedic surgery, providing many musculoskeletal health benefits to menopausal women yet adding an additional risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in the perioperative setting for patients using certain forms of hormonal contraception and menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). The primary objective of this review is to summarize the known literature regarding the VTE risks of perioperative medications containing exogenous estrogen among orthopaedic patients. A secondary objective is to provide guidance to orthopaedic surgeons regarding perioperative management of commonly encountered forms of hormonal contraception and MHT.

METHODS: A summative review of existing literature regarding VTE risk of various forms of hormonal contraception and MHT is provided, with emphasis on perioperative VTE risk surrounding major and minor orthopaedic surgery.

RESULTS: Increased risk of VTE has been identified after arthroscopic knee procedures in patients utilizing oral contraceptive pills and after major lower extremity surgery in patients using MHT, yet there is not a clear standard of care as to how to manage these medications after surgery or how and when to adjust VTE prophylaxis. Regardless of the mode of delivery (pills, patches, vaginal rings), hormonal contraception with exogenous estrogen carries some associated VTE risk that can be compounded by surgery. Depo-Provera has also demonstrated increased risk. Forms of hormonal contraception without elevated VTE risk are progestin only pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs) as well as Nexplanon. MHT with systemic level doses of exogenous estrogen delivered orally has associated VTE risk. While systemic transdermal and transvaginal formulations of estrogen have not been shown to increase VTE risk in the non-surgical state, the risk when combined with the perioperative state after major operations is not yet known. Local estrogen therapies for vaginal symptoms of menopause do not increase risk of VTE.

CONCLUSION: Given the frequent utilization of hormonal contraception and MHT, orthopaedic surgeons should consider the use of medications containing exogenous estrogen in the perioperative VTE risk assessment of patients. Further discussion toward the perioperative management of these medications and standardization of care for patients with increased VTE risks should be encouraged.


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How to Cite

Hormonal Contraception and Menopausal Hormone Therapy: A Reference for Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2023). Journal of Women’s Sports Medicine, 3(3), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.53646/961wvz55

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