From adolescence to older age, women with congenital heart disease (CHD) face unique challenges. In this review we explore the ways in which CHD affects women's sexual and reproductive health and, in turn, how their sexual and reproductive history affects the course of their CHD. In adolescence, special attention must be paid to menstrual irregularities and concerns of developing sexuality and self-image. Discussions about sexuality and reproduction are an important part of transition planning and must be done with an awareness of the adolescent's developing understanding and maturity. Pregnancy imposes a hemodynamic load on the heart which may lead to cardiac, obstetric, and fetal/neonatal complications in women with CHD. Prepregnancy counselling must include an assessment of maternal and fetal risk according to several well developed models. Counselling should also include discussions about fertility and alternatives to pregnancy when appropriate. Recommendations for contraception must be made according to the patient's cardiac lesion. In caring for women with CHD during pregnancy, a multidisciplinary cardio-obstetrics team is recommended to optimize care. More research is needed into the long-term impact of pregnancy on the prognosis of patients with CHD. As women with CHD increasingly survive into old age, more attention will need to be directed toward the treatment of menopause and acquired heart disease in this population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine