Contraception for Women Over 40
Although the main purpose of birth control is to prevent pregnancy, some forms of birth control can also be helpful when a woman is approaching menopause.
As women age, hormones fluctuate greatly. Since birth control pills contain different combinations of the hormones progesterone and estrogen, they can provide some hormonal balance during perimenopause, the time period before a woman enters menopause.
Benefits of using birth control for perimenopause or menopause symptoms include providing relief for irregular periods, hot flashes and night sweats.
If you experience any symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, talk with your medical provider. If you choose a form of birth control to manage the symptoms of perimenopause, a low-dose prescription is best.
Although hormonal birth control may mask symptoms of perimenopause, it does not stop the process of aging. Menopause will still occur naturally, bringing changes to your fertility, hormones, and body.
When you have reached menopause and no longer have periods, you can stop taking birth control. If you still have unpleasant symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping or mental fogginess, discuss this with your doctor. Hormone replacement may be a possible treatment option.
Women who are over age 35 or who smoke should talk with their health provider before taking birth control pills.
Do not use birth control pills to treat perimenopause or menopause if you have had a blood clot, severe migraines, breast cancer, liver disease or have been told you are at a higher risk of a heart attack.
Typical side effects of taking birth control pills include possible weight gain, nausea and lower sex drive. Some women may report depression, although generally your mood will improve.