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Best Practice and Research. Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2014 Aug; 28(6):917-30.Many women in the reproductive years have chronic medical conditions that are affected by pregnancy or in which the fetus is placed at increased risk. In most of these women, ongoing medical management of their conditions is greatly improved, even compared with a decade or two ago. However, their condition may still be seriously exacerbated by the physiological changes of pregnancy, and close monitoring of a carefully planned pregnancy is optimal. This requires effective and safe contraceptive use until pregnancy is desired and the medical condition is stabilised. Many contraceptives will also have adverse effects on some medical conditions, and there is now a considerable awareness of the complexities of some of these interactions. For this reason the World Health Organization has developed an excellent, simple and pragmatic programme of guidelines on a four point scale (the WHO "Medical Eligibility Criteria": WHO-MEC), summarising risk of specific contraceptive methods in women with specified chronic medical conditions. The general approach to contraceptive management of many of these conditions is addressed in this article. Copyright (c) 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.