Birth Control Pills In Perimenopause
Is it me, or is it the Pill? Many women I see in my practice have been on the Pill for decades, and cant make heads or tails of whats going on when they begin to notice perimenopause symptoms. Others worry about the synthetic hormones in their birth control pills as they approach menopause. And then there are many women whove been counseled to start the Pill in their 30s or 40s to manage their symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
So should you be thinking about getting off the Pill? And how best do you go about it? When should you stop worrying about birth control at all? Are there good alternatives to the Pill, especially at this stage of your life? Lets clear up the confusion and help you make the best possible choices for you.
Determining If You Are In Perimenopause
Unlike pregnancy, there is no test you can take to definitively tell you if have reached perimenopause. If you observe perimenopausal symptoms while taking the placebo pills in your birth control pack, this is often a good indicator that your body is in perimenopause.
Some women who are using birth control choose to stop taking the pills because they want to let the bodys natural hormones take over, possibly giving them a more conclusive answer. If symptoms persist, you are likely in perimenopause. If, after halting the birth control, the symptoms disappear, they could have been side effects of the medication, meaning you are not in perimenopause.
It may take anywhere from four weeks to several months for the body and its hormones to regulate after you have ceased taking birth control. There is also a possibility that you have already reached menopause, and menstruation might not be present at all.
Are There Any Risks With Taking Birth Control Pills During Menopause Or Perimenopause
Hormonal contraceptives can sometimes mask symptoms of perimenopause. This can make it difficult to know when youve reached perimenopause. And even after menopause, some women can continue to cycle if they stay on hormonal contraceptives.
As women enter their late 40s, I often suggest they stop taking the pill. This is because hormonal contraceptives can increase the risk of blood clotsespecially as you age. I suggest patients try hormone therapy instead. The lower dose of estrogen decreases risks, but still provides similar benefits as the pill.
Don’t Miss: Is There A Pill For Menopause
What Age Should You Stop Taking Birth Control Pills
While most women know that as they age, their fertility decreases, especially as they approach menopausal years. However, it should be understood that just because fertility decreases, periods may become irregular and the frequency of sex may diminish; women can still get pregnant through their 40s and into their 50s, even without any reproductive fertility assistance. It is important always to use a contraceptive measure at any time you have sex in order to avoid unwanted pregnancy.;
Now, to focus on the potential health effects of taking birth control pills for women in their 40s and into their 50s. The combination pill can be safely used by women up until the age of 50 and the mini pill can be used up until the age of 55. The mini-pill may be the best birth control for 50-year-old women. Let us take a look at some of the benefits of taking birth control after 50 and the risks involved as well.
Are There Any Risks Related To Hormone Therapy
Like most prescribed medications, there are risks for hormone therapy. Some known health risks include:
- Endometrial cancer .
- Gallstones and gallbladder issues.
Going on hormone therapy is an individualized decision. Discuss all past medical conditions and your family history with your healthcare provider to understand the risks versus benefits of hormone therapy for you.
Read Also: Light Headedness And Menopause
Menopause And Birth Control: When Is It Time To Quit
Menopause can be a distressing, confusing time for many women. Its a natural part of life, but the timeline may vary between individuals with a uterus. You may have several questions about what this process entails, which is totally normal! The following article will provide some insight, particularly in terms of how to manage birth control use as you approach menopause.
How Is Premature Menopause Treated
The symptoms and health risks of premature menopause, as well as the emotional issues that may result from it, can be managed with the methods similar to those used for natural menopause. Women dealing with infertility that is brought on by premature menopause may want to discuss their options with their doctor or with a reproductive specialist.
Read Also: How Long Between Periods During Menopause
How Does Birth Control Affect Perimenopause Symptoms
Hormonal birth control can help prevent pregnancy and eliminate period symptoms. Similarly, using birth control during perimenopause can help alleviate unpleasant symptoms and even decrease the likelihood of negative health conditions. For instance, the process of menopause may lead to osteoporosis and other bone-related issues, and implementing birth control can help reduce this risk. Additionally, because birth control regulates hormone levels, it can further minimize some of the effects associated with perimenopause such as hot flashes, acne, and vaginal dryness.
It is important to note, however, that hormonal contraceptives can mask perimenopause symptoms. Furthermore, those who take birth control may not recognize when they have reached the perimenopause stage. For this reason, it is crucial to communicate with a doctor in order to better understand what is going on in your body.
Why Would I Use Very
Very-low-dose birth control pills not only prevent pregnancy but may also have some health benefits. If you’re in your 40s and are still having periods, you could still get pregnant. Very-low-dose birth control pills protect you from pregnancy. They can help regulate your periods if they are heavy or irregular. Very-low-dose birth control pills also may prevent bone loss, which helps protect you from osteoporosis. Another potential benefit is protection from cancer of the ovary and uterus.
Recommended Reading: Is Dizziness A Symptom Of Menopause
Should You Take Birth Control Pills After The Age Of 50
When we become sexually active individuals, the pleasures and benefits can be wonderful, but it is also important to know that potential consequences can be involved. When it comes to having sexual intercourse, the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy are real. While there are various methods to protect and limit the risk of both, we are going to look at a specific contraceptive method for the purpose of this article. Sixty years ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first contraceptive pills to be used daily as a non-barrier method against pregnancy. Since 1960, there are numerous options available to women, and the effectiveness and side effects are much better understood now with decades of research. A big question that many women have as they get older is at what age should you stop taking birth control pills?
How To Treat Them:
Hormone therapy, which involves taking supplemental estrogen or progesterone alongside estrogen, is thought to be the most effective available treatment for hot flashes after menopause. The F.D.A. has also approved paroxetine, an antidepressant most commonly known as Paxil, to treat moderate to severe hot flashes.
Some doctors do not recommend hormone therapy during perimenopause and instead prescribe a low-dose hormonal birth control method. Hormone therapy regimens typically contain one-fourth of the amount of hormone in the lowest-dose birth control pill, Dr. Adams said, but it is not enough to provide contraception and to control irregular bleeding.
Read Also: Is Dizziness A Symptom Of Perimenopause
Birth Control And Perimenopause
You wake up in the middle of the night to sweat-soaked sheets, your thoughts are wading through brain fog and you can’t remember the last time your period didn’t come as a surprise. Congratulations! You’re going through perimenopause.
Unless you want to add a baby into the mix — or for some reason, love your perimenopause symptoms — you might want to consider your contraception options.
During women’s late 30s and 40s, they produce less progesterone, and their number and quality of follicles — the basic units of female reproductive biology — decrease. Cycle length and ovulation become irregular, with results ranging from surprise periods to surprise babies, according to Dr. Margery Gass, MD, NCMP, and Executive Director of The North American Menopause Society.
Since a woman’s fertility drops after age 30, many women in the throes of perimenopause believe they can’t and won’t get pregnant. This is not really the case, since less-than-regular cycles make it difficult for women to prevent pregnancy without the use of contraceptives. “Ovulation becomes unpredictable during perimenopause, so it is difficult for a woman to know when she is ovulating and can become pregnant,” Gass says.
Reaching out is IN!; Suffering in silence is OUT!
For more by Ellen Dolgen, click here.
For more on women’s health, click here.
Ellen Dolgen is an outspoken women’s health and wellness advocate, menopause awareness expert, author, and speaker.
An Early First Menstrual Period May Lead To Premature Menopause
How do you know if youre starting perimenopause?
The most telling symptom is changes in your menstrual cycle, says psychiatrist Hadine Joffe, the executive director of the Connors Center for Womens Health and Gender Biology at the Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.
Its the menstrual cycle pattern that really defines this lead-up to menopause, she says. During perimenopause, periods might be shorter, then a long one, or then a skipped one, or then the flow might be different, says Joffe.
Theres no blood or hormone test that can diagnose perimenopause. Joffe says a hormone test isnt helpful because hormonal cycles become erratic and unpredictable during this stage.
Theres not really one point in time when a hormone test is done that can be definitive, she says. Even if you took several tests over time, you might get a very different readout.
Surprisingly, sometimes doctors arent prepared to help women recognize the start of this life phase. Edrie was upset at her doctors responses â or lack thereof. I felt so disappointed in the medical industry. How many women has my OB/GYN seen and not recognized the symptoms of perimenopause?
What symptoms to expect
Read Also: Menopause And Dizzy Spells
The Choice To Use Birth Control Is Yours
We want our readers to have the best, most up-to-date information so they can make decisions that work well for them.
Whether you choose to stay on the Pill or to come off it, supporting your body through optimal nutrition and lifestyle should be high on your list. The better you treat yourself while on the Pill, the easier your transition will be when you do inevitably come off it. Plus, you will already have the positive health measures in place to help you overcome hormonal imbalance symptoms in perimenopause and beyond.
Cibula, D., et al. 2010. Hormonal contraception and risk of cancer. Hum. Reprod. Update, 16 , 631650. URL : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20543200 .
Figueiredo, J., et al. 2010. Oral contraceptives and postmenopausal hormones and risk of contralateral breast cancer among BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers and noncarriers: The WECARE Study. Breast Cancer Res. Treat., 120 , 175183. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835545/?tool=pubmed .
Rosenberg, L., et al. 2009. A case-control study of oral contraceptive use and incident breast cancer. Am. J. Epidemiol., 169 , 473479. URL: http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/169/4/473.long .
Lee, E., et al. 2007. Effect of reproductive factors and oral contraceptives on breast cancer risk in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and noncarriers: Results from a population-based study. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev., 17 , 31703178. URL: http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/17/11/3170.long .
Mood Swings And Depression
Studies indicate that mood swings are more common during perimenopause, when hormonal fluctuations are most erratic, than during the postmenopausal years, when ovarian hormones stabilize at a low level. No direct link between mood and diminished estrogen has been proved, but it is possible that mood changes result when hormonal shifts disrupt the established patterns of a woman’s life. These changes can be stressful and may bring on “the blues.” Mood swings can mean laughing one minute and crying the next, and feeling anxious or depressed. These changes are transient, however, and do not usually meet the criteria for a diagnosis of clinical depression, a more profound dysfunctional emotional state.
Over their lifespan, women have more depression than men. But there is no evidence that decreased estrogen alone causes clinical depression. Although women who have had previous episodes of depression may be vulnerable to a recurrence during perimenopause, menopause in and of itself does not cause clinical depression. The incidence of depression in postmenopausal women is not any higher than at any other time in life.
Also Check: Menopause Dizzy Spells
What Are Hot Flashes And How Long Will I Have Them
Hot flashes are one of the most frequent symptoms of menopause. It is a brief sensation of heat. Hot flashes arent the same for everyone and theres no definitive reason that they happen. Aside from the heat, hot flashes can also come with:
- A red, flushed face.
- A chilled feeling after the heat.
Hot flashes not only feel different for each person they also can last for various amounts of time. Some women only have hot flashes for a short period of time during menopause. Others can have some kind of hot flash for the rest of their life. Typically, hot flashes are less severe as time goes on.
Birth Control And Menopause
Birth control during menopause is something you should make sure you have sorted as it is, of course, a myth that you cant get pregnant during this time.
Actually, scratch that. Since menopause is defined as the time following the absence of menstruation for 12 months if you are over 50 when your periods stop, you are highly unlikely to get pregnant then. The condition we are talking about is perimenopause.
Recommended Reading: Dizziness During Menopause
How Do You Know When You Have Reached Menopause
While theres no definitive test that can confirm menopause, your gynecologist can help you determine whether you are near menopause by reviewing your symptoms along with your medical and menstrual history.
With changing levels of hormones during perimenopause, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Heavy and irregular periods
Alternatives For Symptom Relief
Because of the high risk of taking exogenous hormones like birth control or HRT during perimenopause, many women are turning to less risky alternatives to alleviate symptoms.
These menopause symptoms treatments work principally with lifestyle changes alongside the use of alternative medicine to promote optimal endocrine health and hormonal balance.
Don’t Miss: Is Dizziness A Symptom Of Menopause
A Word On Perimenopause
Medically, menopauseis defined as a time when a woman has not had her menstrual period for at least12 consecutive months . The period before menopause, when you beginnoticing signs of hormonal changes, is defined as perimenopause. During thisphase, the ovaries gradually produce lesser estrogen, and your periods may movebecome farther apart from each other. On the other hand, some women may noticeirregular periods that come closer together and do not follow their previouspattern of being 25-40 days apart. To put it simply, when you experienceperimenopause, your periods become difficult to predict. You may alsoexperience heavier or lighter flow, or notice more blood clots duringperimenopause.
Menopause will kick in when your ovaries produce so little estrogen than it no longer leads to the release of a healthy egg from your ovaries, to trigger menstruation after 14-16 days. Remember, if your last period was less than a year ago, you are not fully menopausal yet, ;and could still become pregnant. We discuss the various symptoms of perimenopause in a different article, so give that a read too.
What Are Hot Flushes And What Can I Do To Treat Them
A hot flush is described as a sudden warm or hot feeling that often starts in the chest or shoulders and moves up to the face and neck. They usually last from 30 seconds to about 5 minutes, and can happen during the day or night.
Hot flushes often cause red and flushed skin. You may also experience heavy sweating followed by chills or sweats. Some women have palpitations with a hot flush.
To prevent hot flushes, avoid triggers such as alcohol, caffeine, hot drinks and spicy food. If possible, avoid warm environments. Keeping stress to a minimum can also help. Try carrying a hand-held fan or misting spray and wearing layers of clothing that can be easily removed.
Hormone replacement therapy ; now more commonly known as menopausal hormone therapy can be used to treat hot flushes, and is generally regarded as the most effective treatment. There are also non-hormonal treatments, but they are usually less effective than MHT.
You May Like: How Long Does A Woman Go Through Menopause
If I’m Taking Birth Control Pills How Will I Know When Menopause Starts
You and your doctor will decide together how long you should take this medicine. You can stop taking very-low-dose birth control pills any time, or you can change to regular estrogen replacement therapy. The decision to change from the low-dose birth control pills to estrogen replacement therapy is usually made around the ages of 49 to 52. Your doctor can also measure a hormone called FSH to see if you’re in menopause. If the FSH measurement is over 30, you’ve probably entered menopause.
Talk to your doctor to see if very-low-dose oral contraceptives might be a good idea for you during your perimenopausal years.
Read the full article.
- Get immediate access, anytime, anywhere.
- Choose a single article, issue, or full-access subscription.
- Earn up to 6 CME credits per issue.
How Long Will My Symptoms Last
Menopausal symptoms may last from several months to several years the average is 4-8 years. Menopause symptoms tend to be most severe in the year around your last period.
While some symptoms should disappear with time, urinary symptoms and vaginal dryness can continue to be a problem throughout the postmenopausal years.
Also Check: Why Does Menopause Cause Hot Flashes