Birth Control Methods for Older Women

Even if you’re over 40, you probably still need to take birth control unless you want to have a family.

Fertility naturally decreases with age, but women don’t become infertile until menopause. Conception is quite common among menopausal women.

Since their fertility is reduced, women wrongly assume they don’t need to take birth control. But it is not unheard of for women in their 40s and 50s to get pregnant. As a result, they should keep using contraception every time they have sex to avoid becoming pregnant.

Women over 40 may have pleasant sexual lives, but they may need to change their chosen method of contraception.

Several contraceptive choices are compatible with your health and lifestyle.

Changing Birth Control 

The contraception method you used in your twenties and thirties may not be the greatest choice in your forties and fifties. Your body and life must have changed. Therefore, you should discuss contraception options with your doctor.

If you don’t have sex often, you may choose to stop using daily or long-term contraception and switch to condoms or diaphragms. Notably, these treatments are less successful than pills and long-acting methods.

Not all women in their forties or fifties are required to switch birth control methods. You may be able to continue using your pill, patch, or ring until menopause. When you discuss your options with your doctor, he or she will examine your weight, lifestyle, health, and medical history.

Surgical Contraception 

Two forms of more permanent contraception may be preferable if you know for sure that you don’t want any more children and don’t want to deal with taking birth control pills every day:

1. Tubal Ligation

Tubal Ligation is the surgery often known as “tubes tied,” which is done via the abdomen. Afterwards, it typically requires two days of rest. The surgeon sedates the patient, makes an incision in the stomach or navel, and clips or burns the fallopian tubes to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. 

There is a slight possibility of an ectopic pregnancy occurring even after the surgery. Therefore, for the next three months after surgery, you should use a backup method of birth control.

2. Tubal Occlusion

The Tubal Occlusion method, which is known by the name “Essure,” is a nonsurgical option for the more invasive tube-tying surgery. In this procedure, your doctor will put a tiny device into your fallopian tubes through your uterus. 

It will stimulate the growth of tissue, which will eventually build a permanent barrier that will prevent sperm from entering your reproductive system. In the very rare case of an ectopic pregnancy, the woman might expect to feel better within 24 hours.

Estrogen-Free Birth Control

If you have specific medical issues, like breast cancer or a history of blood clots, your doctor may advise hormone-free contraception. Hormones may stimulate the development of some cancers. Breast, ovarian, endometrial, lung, and liver cancers are among them.

The risk of cardiovascular disease and blood clots may also be increased by the use of birth control pills containing estrogen. Birth control pills containing estrogen should not be used by smokers who are over the age of 35. Hormone-free or progestin-only birth control may be suitable for these women.

There are several methods of contraception available. Furthermore, it includes those that must be used often, even every day, but which are also easily accessible and widely used.

If you decide you’d want to try for a baby in the future, you can easily reverse the effects of these methods of birth control that don’t use estrogen or other hormones.

1. Rings and Patches 

The use of an estrogen birth control ring or patch is another viable alternative. A vaginal ring is worn for three weeks before being removed, after which they are kept in for a week. 

Additionally, both of these estrogen choices manage the menstrual cycle, particularly if you are experiencing irregular bleeding.

2. Hormonal Implant 

A hormonal implant is a flexible plastic rod approximately the size of a matchstick that is inserted under the upper arm skin.

It steadily produces a modest dosage of a progestational hormone to thicken cervical mucus and thin the uterine lining (endometrium). Normally, hormonal implants inhibit ovulation as well.

3. Minipill

Norethindrone is an oral contraceptive that includes the progestin hormone. Minipills, often known as progestin-only pills, do not include estrogen, unlike combination birth control pills.

This progestin-only pill is not related to an increased risk of hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

A minipill contains less progestin than a combo birth control pill. Moreover, it increases cervical mucus and thins the endometrial lining. Further, this prevents sperm from accessing the egg. 

Additionally, the mini pill reduces ovulation, but inconsistently. For optimal efficiency, the minipillmust be taken daily at the same time.

4. IUD 

One method of long-term contraception is the intrauterine device (IUD). It’s a kind of intrauterine contraception that doesn’t rely on hormones.

An intrauterine device, often known as a “T-frame,” is a plastic structure that is surgically implanted into the uterus. Inflammation caused by the coiled copper wire is harmful to sperm and eggs, blocking fertilisation.

A lack of hormones characterises them. To avoid conception, they use a copper wire that is toxic to sperm and may last for a decade.

5. Birth Control Shot 

The injection is given every 11 to 13 weeks. The injection includes a little quantity of progesterone, which is similar to the hormones produced naturally by the body. The shot prevents pregnancy by blocking egg release from the ovary.

The birth control shot also changes cervical mucus. This prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. It may help protect against pelvic inflammatory disease and alleviate endometriosis-related pelvic discomfort.

Emergency Contraceptive 

There is no maximum age limit for emergency contraception. It can be taken by any woman who has had unsafe sex or contraceptive failure and still needs contraception. There are two varieties of it:

  • Emergency contraceptive pills 
  • Emergency intrauterine devices (IUDs)

You may get emergency contraceptive pills without a prescription from your healthcare professional or a pharmacy. The emergency IUD is the most effective method and has the added benefit of being permanent contraception.

Bottom Line 

Contraception should be taken for at least one year following the last menstrual period if this occurred after the age of 50, and for two years if this occurred before the age of 50. This is because periods may occasionally resume even after many months without bleeding. Otherwise, contraception may be discontinued after age 55, even if you are still experiencing irregular periods since the chance of pregnancy is exceedingly minimal at this age.

However, if you are taking progestogen-only hormonal contraception, you may have either sporadic periods or none at all, making it difficult to determine whether you have reached menopause.

Except for the injection, progestogen-only treatments may be used safely until age 55, excluding the injection. Your healthcare practitioner may suggest a blood test to determine how long you must continue the treatment.

If you take a combination hormonal contraception, you will have regular periods of withdrawal bleeding, which masks one of the menopausal symptoms. Blood tests are unreliable and not advised if you are taking mixed hormonal methods, which should be discontinued at age 50 in favour of non-hormonal or progestogen-only contraception.

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