Starting Menopause? Don’t Quit Your Birth Control Just Yet
Night sweats, hot flashes and weight gain. Well, at least all of those menopausal symptoms translate to freedom from pills, diaphragms and condoms. Right? Not so fast.
Menopause doesn’t happen overnight and during the journey women experience something called perimenopause. Perimenopause occurs when a woman’s hormones begin to change – specifically, the ovaries produce less estrogen. With this change, many of the symptoms, such as mood swings, irregular periods, headaches and infertility, echo those of menopause.
Yet, during this time a woman is still fertile because she’s continuing to ovulate and therefore it’s important that she doesn’t toss her contraceptives. In fact, perimenopausal women are just as likely as younger women to get pregnant unintentionally. In addition, some sources show that unplanned pregnancies have occurred in women up to nearly 60 years old.
The risk of chromosomal issues such as Down’s syndrome increases substantially after a woman turns 40 and miscarriages are much higher among this age group. For women 50 and younger, doctors recommend continuing to use dependable contraception until their periods have completely ceased for two years. Women older than 50 should continue to take contraception for a year after their periods end.
There are many options available for women entering menopause, including:
- Oral Contraceptives:
- The mini pill: Also known as the Progesterone-Only Pill, this contraceptive is often prescribed to breast-feeding women who recently gave birth because it doesn’t contain estrogen. For women going through menopause, it’s a good option since it doesn’t increase the risk of stroke.
- Regular (combined) birth control
- Intrauterine Devices:
- Vaginal Rings
- Nonhormonal Contraceptives:
- Vasectomy (for partner)
Periods, cramps, pregnancy, breastfeeding – being a woman is not easy. Menopause is yet another hormonal shift that all women experience. By continuing to take contraceptives during this phase in their life, women can ensure they’re protected from unexpected pregnancies.
If you are experiencing perimenopause and have questions related to birth control or other health concerns, schedule your consultation with Dr. David Ghozland today. Call us at (310) 393-9359 to learn more.