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About to hit menopause? Consider turning to these contraceptive methods

You might think that when you're about to hit menopause, you may be free from the risk of unwanted pregnancies. But you must turn to these contraceptives.
Know all about contraception methods around your menopause stage. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Yashica Gudesar Published: 25 Nov 2021, 09:00 am IST
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Menopause is a natural process in the female body, in which the menstrual cycle stops permanently. The average age of menopause is between 45-55 years and is a sign that the women’s body is now unable to conceive. The life-changing stage can be tough and irregular for many women; this transition can result in other problems as well.

Before you reach menopause, you are likely to experience irregularity and unpredictability. Although your body will stop ovulating, it is important to stay alert and use contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The contraceptive choice depends on several factors and can be stopped after one year of menopause. While there are several contraceptive methods available, it is essential to review the safety and their effect on women’s health.

Contraceptive options available for women before hitting menopause

Since contraceptives at a mature age have their own side effects, they are also dependent on factors like personal preferences, risks, medical condition, and effectiveness.

The options available are many, but women in their pre-menopausal stage would have particular preferences and priorities. Some of the options are:

  • Pills:

Oral contraceptives are safe and effective with no medical problems. The pills are easily available, cost-effective, and have specific advantages for women. Pills also help in improving periods problems like heavy blood flow, irregularity, and other symptoms. However, pills can have their flaws and cannot be an option for women who have a medical condition, chronic diseases, smokers, age, and obesity. It is advisable to consult your doctor before starting, in order to avoid any major risk.

  • Progesterone-only pills:

    The pills are an effective way to prevent pregnancy and are safe for women above 40 years. Progesterone-only pills can be taken regularly and as an alternative if you cannot use contraceptives that have estrogen. You might experience slight changes in the body, and the pills will not work if you vomit or have diarrhea.

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    Contraceptive Pill
    You must know how birth control pills can help you. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
  • Contraceptive Injections:

    The hormone injection can prevent pregnancy for 6-12 weeks, depending on the injection shot. The contraceptive injection prevents ovaries from the egg, and restricts sperm from entering the uterus. The highly effective method can be used by women who experience heavy bleeding and severe pain.

  • Contraceptive implant:

    The long-term birth control method can be used by women in their 50s as well. The easy method can be stopped any time by removing the implant and does not contain any estrogen. The contraceptive method is not suitable for you if you are allergic to any part of the implant, or have any health condition, blood clots, or problems in the genital region.

  • IUCD (intrauterine contraceptive device):

    Another form of contraceptive implant, commonly known as “copper T.” The T- shaped implant of copper or plastic is placed inside you to avoid pregnancy. The non-permanent method is risk-free and can last up to 10 years, depending on their type. Women on IUCD do not need any other form of contraceptive method to avoid pregnancy.

  • Hormonal contraception:

    This birth control method uses estrogen or progesterone-only to help you against pregnancy. These contraceptives can be taken orally, through injection, or can be inserted into the vagina.

  • Sterilization:

    The permanently intentional method of birth control is most effective and can be done surgically or non-surgical method. Sterilization is a birth control method that can be opted by men, women, or both partners mutually.

Apart from these options, emergency contraceptives are also effective and can be used anytime in the form of a pill. Some of the other options are hormone replacement therapy, IUS, natural methods, male/female condoms, contraceptive vaginal rings, contraceptive patch, etc.

Limitations of contraceptives in menopause

In addition to potential benefits, using contraceptives during perimenopause can have risks associated with it. Some of these are:

  • The formation of blood clots can increase the chances of heart attack, stroke, or breast cancer.
  • Contraceptives can alter the hormones of the body that can affect the body in several ways.
  • Contraceptives cannot be used by women with chronic health conditions, smokers, or other complications.
  • Although contraceptives are effective, sometimes they can fail, which can result in unwanted pregnancy and other complications.

    premature menopause
    Taking contraceptives around menopause can have many side effects. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The last word

Contraceptives are essential and effective but have limitations for mature women. It is important to consult your doctor before making any decision or taking oral birth control pills. At this stage of life people with regular cycles usually use safe days or withdrawal methods, but they should remember that ovulation can be delayed or early, hence these methods can lead to failure and pregnancy can happen.

Routine health checks and ultrasounds should be done and yearly gynecologist consultations are a must. Though sexual activity might be decreased during menopause, a single sexual unprotected contact can also cause pregnancy.

Sometimes, the patient thinks she has had menopause, and can land up in OPD after three months with pregnancy, hence don’t be sure of menopause till your doctor has confirmed or you have missed periods for one year.

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About the Author

Dr Yashica Gudesar, HOD & Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynaecology, HCMCT Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi ...Read More

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