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Approaching menopause? Don’t forget about birth control

by Margery Gass | Nov 06, 2014
If you’re having hot flashes and other menopause symptoms but still getting your period now and then, there is a slight chance you could become pregnant, unless you have already taken care of that. If not, and if you would like to avoid pregnancy, birth control is recommended until one year after your last period. Many options are available for midlife women:

  • Birth control pills, patches, or rings—added benefits include more regular cycles with perhaps lighter bleeding, perhaps fewer hot flashes and a reduced risk of cancer of the uterus and ovaries. Note that these methods are not recommended for women who are smokers over age 35, have high blood pressure, migraines or who have had a blood clot in their legs or lungs. 
  • Progestin-alone pills, implants and injections—a potential option for those who smoke, have certain cancers,  high blood pressure, diabetes (without kidney, retina, or neurologic complications), history of blood clots, or obesity. These conditions should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
  • Barrier methods (condoms, diaphragm, spermicide)—condoms are the only method than provides some protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Note that these methods depend upon one of the two partners using the method with intercourse every single time.
  • Intrauterine devices with or without hormones—safe, highly effective, convenient, and long-term.
  • Sterilization (Tubal ligation, fallopian tube inserts, or vasectomy for men)—very effective and permanent methods, but require a surgical procedure.
  • Note that the last two methods, as well as progestin implants, require procedures that produce long-lasting contraception. They are highly effective, but they are more costly up front and in the short term. If you are quite close to menopause, they may not be worth the cost and the necessity of undergoing a procedure. 
For all of these methods be sure to review the pros and cons with your healthcare provider in order to be sure the method is a good choice for you.

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