Menopause usually happens in your 40s or 50s. This process is accompanied by the extinction of the reproductive system functions. Despite the absence of the menstrual cycle, experts recommend that women who have a regular sex life use contraception. There are several methods to prevent unplanned pregnancies during menopause.
Is it possible to conceive after menopause?
During menopause, complex changes begin to occur in the woman’s body, the main effect of which is aimed at the gradual cessation of the reproductive activity of the female body. You need to consider the changes in more detail in order to decide for yourself whether to use contraception or not.
Changes begin with a decrease in the production of the female sex hormone progesterone by the ovaries, which ceases to compensate for the production of another sex hormone – estradiol.
In parallel, the pituitary gland tries to make up for the lack of progesterone and stimulates the ovaries by releasing luteotropic hormone into the blood.
A woman experiences hormonal “swings”. They are expressed by the troubles in the various organs and systems.
Meanwhile, the process of menopause does not stand still.
With a decrease in hormone production, the number of follicles in the ovarian cavity is gradually reduced, therefore, the regular ovulation process is disturbed, and a woman experiences interruptions in her menstrual cycle.
Gradually, menstruation disappears completely. Menopause is confirmed after 1 year of no periods.
Given the changes in the woman’s body, we can assume that pregnancy cannot be detected during menopause. While the body is in the process of egg maturation (though not regularly), it is somewhat premature to talk about the impossibility of conception.
One can state with a certain degree of certainty that an unplanned conception is no longer a threat only after the onset of the postmenopausal period. It is quite difficult to independently determine the onset of this state.
Therefore, the most reasonable solution would be to contact your doctor and undergo appropriate examinations, in particular, analysis for the content of follicle-stimulating hormone.
Once you get medical confirmation that conception and childbearing are no longer possible, you can completely abandon the use of contraceptives.
Why use contraception during menopause?
The human body is programmed for certain life cycles and each of them has its own functions.
Menopause is the time of completion of reproductive processes when a resting phase begins in the genital area. Therefore, the onset of pregnancy in this segment of life is undesirable.
All organs and systems experience an additional load under the influence of menopause. Physiological changes occur in the genitals.
Conception in this age period creates additional stress for the body, and its consequences can be quite dangerous.
Pregnancy and childbirth during menopause are much more difficult because the body has almost exhausted its reproductive functions. In addition, a woman at this age already has certain malfunctions in the work of organs, which can negatively affect the process of bearing a child. The risk of giving birth to a child with developmental pathologies, for example, with Down syndrome, increases over the years.
No less dangerous consequences can result in abortion during menstruation. Needless to say, this is a double hormonal blow to a woman’s body. The onset of pregnancy during menostasis and then its termination are severe changes that can become a catalyst for the most dangerous ailments, including cancer.
In order to prevent negative consequences, it is necessary to think about contraception during menopause in advance. After all, it is easier to prevent any problem than to deal with its consequences.
Watch a video about menopause and contraception:
What birth control to use during menopause?
When the first signs of menopause appear, a woman should seek the advice of a gynecologist. The specialist will give recommendations on how to better prevent pregnancy during menopause.
There are several methods of birth control that are recommended for women who have reached menopause:
- birth control pills;
- barrier methods;
- intrauterine device (IUD);
- surgical method.
Birth control pills significantly improve the well-being of a woman who experiences menopause, make it easier to endure the unpleasant symptoms of this period.
Birth control pills
Oral contraception is perhaps the most convenient method of preventing pregnancy during menopause.
The main function of birth control pills is to prevent ovulation but at the same time, these drugs maintain hormonal balance, as they contain female sex hormones – estrogen, ethinyl estradiol, levonorgestrel, desogestrel. You need to take drugs daily, preferably at the same time.
Specialists most often prescribed the following oral contraceptives to women who have reached menopause:
Oral contraceptives should be selected individually for each woman by a gynecologist. When choosing a drug, a specialist takes into account the state of a woman’s health of a woman and the presence of diseases.
A separate group of birth control pills is a levonorgestrel 1,5 mg pill (Plan B, New Day, Next Choice, Morning After, Preventeza, AfterPill, Kyleena, Take Action, My Way, etc). It belongs to emergency contraception. The pill must be taken no later than 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.
It is dangerous for women of menopausal age to use Plan B and its analogues since her body undergoes serious hormonal reorganization, and the dose of hormones that enters it together with the pill can destroy the endocrine system.
In what cases do I need to start birth control?
Many gynecologists advise taking combination oral contraceptives as prophylaxis of menopause. They believe that it is necessary to prepare the body for menopause in advance, and oral contraceptives can help with this. The use of COCs after 40 years prolongs the work of the ovaries, prevents endocrine and cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer, and osteoporosis.
At the age of 50 years and older, it is important to make the right switch from oral contraception to hormonal therapy. Only an experienced gynecologist can help with this because it is necessary to undergo a full examination, eliminate contraindications, and select an individual treatment schedule before using HRT.
You should know that the COC pill is needed only during the premenopause when the possibility of conception still persists.
After the function of the ovaries has already completely died out, such doses of hormones that are present in birth control medications are no longer needed by the female body.
Moreover, uncontrolled administration of oral contraceptives in menostasis can cause tumors of a different nature, including malignant ones.
Important! Oral contraception therapy should be monitored by a gynecologist throughout. It is very important not to miss the moment when birth control pills become a threat to health.
“Can I take birth control pills during menopause?” this question is often asked by women who experience hormonal restructuring. Doctors answer that each case is individual, and there is simply no cure for everyone. However, despite this, if you have no contraindications, regular use of COC during menopause has the following effect:
- Eliminates hot flashes;
- Maintains the normal state of the vaginal mucosa;
- Stabilizes the emotional background;
- Prevents mental disorders;
- Prevents sharp causeless weight gain;
- Prevents demineralization of bone tissue;
- Prevents cardiovascular disease.
Due to the fact that birth control pills block the work of the ovaries and supply a certain amount of sex hormones to the body, women often simply do not feel the onset of menopause. The body works in the usual way, there are no malfunctions of organs and systems, and the hormonal background is stable.
But, despite all these advantages, it is important to remember that the amount of hormones needed by the body is different at each age.
Therefore, the doctor should select the COC pill in menopause, and therapy should be clearly controlled by regular examinations, full-body screenings, including tests, ultrasound, and other hardware examinations.
Birth control pills should not be taken by women who have reached menopause if:
- Lady smokes. Smoking destroys blood vessels and negatively affects the composition of the blood, which makes the use of birth control pills impossible;
- The patient suffers from any type of diabetes. In this case, COC will only aggravate this disruption of the cardiovascular system;
- The patient is diagnosed with heart disease. Birth control pills can increase blood viscosity, which in combination with heart pathologies will only aggravate the disease;
- The patient is overweight. Contraceptives increase fat deposits, which can cause a serious stage of obesity;
- The patient is diagnosed with liver disease. Metabolic disorders affect the hormonal background, and birth control pills can significantly aggravate this failure.
Other types of contraception during menopause
- Barrier contraception. This type includes condoms and special intravaginal caps. This method of contraception is most effective and prevents not only pregnancy but also various sexually transmitted infections;
- IUD. An intrauterine device provides reliable protection against unwanted pregnancy, but it has a number of contraindications. Also, an IUD is not always suitable for use in menopause due to possible side effects;
- Suppositories and vaginal tablets. They reliably prevent fertilization, having a sperm-destructive effect. Such drugs are not always recommended for use in menopause because they destroy the vaginal mucosa, which is extremely undesirable during menopause;
- Patches. This is a convenient way to prevent pregnancy. But these means are hormonal and also have a lot of contraindications. When using patches, you must follow the wearing schedule, otherwise, you may get unwanted side effects;
- Sterilization. This method is widely used in European countries. Women who do not plan to have children anymore just undergo surgery, during which the fallopian tubes are ligated. As a result, pregnancy becomes absolutely impossible.
All these birth control methods effectively prevent unwanted fertilization, but their con is that they do not alleviate the signs of menopause. The contraceptive should be selected by a doctor because every method has contraindications.
Important! Contraception during menopause is needed, but only an experienced doctor should choose the option; self-medication is absolutely unacceptable at this age.
When is it time to switch from oral contraception to HRT?
The World Health Organization recommends taking COC before the second phase of menopause. The second phase is menopause is when a woman has no menstruation for 1 year. After this point, the need for contraception disappears since the ovaries have completely completed their work and the eggs are no longer formed in them.
At this point, you can switch to hormone replacement therapy. HRT in this period is not necessary for all patients. If a lady does not have pronounced symptoms of menopause, does not suffer from hot flashes and pressure surges, libido is preserved and osteoporosis does not develop, there is no need for hormones.
Important! If HRT is not recommended for the patient, it is strictly forbidden to take hormones without consulting a doctor! Hormone replacement therapy is needed only when menopause significantly reduces the quality of life.
How to avoid complications from taking oral contraceptives?
Often pre-menopausal women prevent pregnancies not according to the doctor’s prescription but according to the advice of friends, recommendations on the Internet, etc. It is important to know that such an approach can lead to irreparable consequences, for example, thrombosis, exacerbation of existing diseases, and even cancer. For this reason, when taking birth control pills, it is important to observe the following rules:
- Pills should be prescribed by a doctor and only after a full examination;
- Therapy should be monitored by specialists. You need to go for check-ups at least twice a year;
- When taking COC pills, it is important to quit smoking and switch to proper nutrition;
- It is important to follow a drug schedule and the;
- It is necessary to respond to any changes in the body;
- If you cannot use hormones, a different method of protection should be chosen; and the symptoms of menopause should be alleviated with the help of phytoestrogens.
Once again we emphasize that each body is individual. Hormone therapy in any form is the delicate work of a gynecologist who takes into account the individual characteristics of the body, a genetic predisposition to various pathologies, and an individual reaction to one or another component of the drug.