Timing of conception and the risk of spontaneous abortion among pregnancies occurring during the use of natural family planning

Ronald H. Gray, Joe L. Simpson, Robert T. Kambic, John T. Queenan, Patricio Mena, Alfredo Perez, Michele Barbato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Our purpose was to ascertain the effects of timing of conception on the risk of spontaneous abortion. STUDY DESIGN: To assess these effects, women who conceived while using natural family planning were identified in five centers worldwide between 1987 and 1993. Timing of conception was determined from 868 natural family planning charts that recorded day of intercourse and indices of ovulation (cervical mucus peak obtained according to the ovulation method and/or basal body temperature). Conceptions on days - 1 or 0 with respect to the natural family planning estimated day of ovulation were considered to be "optimally timed," and all other conceptions were considered as "non-optimally timed." The rate of spontaneous abortions per 100 pregnancies was examined in relation to timing of conception, ages, reproductive history, and other covariates with bivariate and multivariate statistical methods. RESULTS: There were 88 spontaneous abortions among 868 pregnancies (10.1%). The spontaneous abortion rate was similar for 361 optimally timed conceptions (9.1%) and 507 non-optimally timed conceptions (10.9%). However, among 171 women who had experienced a spontaneous abortion in a prior pregnancy, the rate of spontaneous abortion in the index pregnancy was significantly higher with non-optimally timed conceptions (22.6%) as compared with optimally timed conceptions (7.3%). This association was not observed among 697 women with no history of pregnancy loss. The adjusted relative risk of spontaneous abortion among women with non-optimally timed conceptions and a history of pregnancy loss was 2.35 (95% confidence intervals 1.42 to 3.89). The excess risk of spontaneous abortion was observed with both preovulatory and postovulatory conceptions. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, there is no excess risk of spontaneous abortion among the pregnancies conceived during natural family planning use. However, among women with a history of pregnancy loss, there is an increased risk of spontaneous abortion associated with preovulatory or postovulatory delayed conceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1567-1572
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1995


  • Natural family planning
  • aging gametes
  • spontaneous abortion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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