I'm trying to figure out whether or not to hyphenate a new medical-related phrase, "post birth control syndrome."

I know Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is hyphenated, but that seems to make sense because "post-traumatic" on it's own defines the state of the condition.

"Post-birth-control" doesn't feel right as "birth control" as a phrase isn't hyphenated.

So do I do "post-birth control syndrome" or "post birth control syndrome" and why?

  • Welcome to EL&U. I do not know the answer to your question but I have up-voted it so that it will gain some attention and hopefully be answered for you. – Nigel J Feb 8 '18 at 7:07
  • The whole point of the hyphens is to reduce ambiguity. Whether or not a phrase is hyphenated when on its own is completely beside the point. Most every phrase is not hyphenated when on its own, but you add hyphens when using it as a compound modifier. Just take your phrase and ask yourself, how do you want the reader to parse it? Then make them parse it that way by using hyphens. Do you want them to parse it as something about the post? Something after birth? Or something after birth control? Ah, and so there's your answer. – RegDwigнt Feb 8 '18 at 14:10
  • As to communicating various levels of priority, when you have a compound of compounds, that's what en dashes are there for. Compare "post-birth–control" vs. "post–birth-control". Quite obviously these mean rather different things. See the linked question for details on this. – RegDwigнt Feb 8 '18 at 14:18
  • Note that your analogy to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is not valid. 'Stress Disorder' makes sense; 'Control Disorder' does not make sense, at least in the way you require. – Ross Murray Feb 8 '18 at 16:24
  • @RegDwigнt so it sounds like you're suggesting post-birth-control syndrome is correct? – bhamrick Feb 9 '18 at 4:07

I would substitute the word postnatal instead of post-birth. No hyphen needed.

  • It's related to hormonal birth control, so the phrase birth control is necessary. It's a condition several healthcare professionals are adopting I just haven't seen consensus on the grammar. – bhamrick Feb 8 '18 at 5:58

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