Birth Control and Perimenopause

Perimenopause is known as “menopause transition.” It is a stage of a woman’s life that can begin 8 to 10 years before menopause, or when most women are in their 40’s. During perimenopause, the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen but can still release eggs. Therefore, even if you feel some of the symptoms of menopause (such as night sweats, period changes or vaginal dryness), you can still get pregnant during this phase of life. This is why it is still important to continue your birth control method if you do not want to have children.

While not all women experience noticeable symptoms, many women regard perimenopause as a “rocky road.” Declining ovary function and shifting hormones are to blame for the disruptive symptoms that may come and go. While the average duration of perimenopause is 3 to 4 years, some women stay in this transitional stage for a decade.

When it comes to birth control, don’t be surprised if you need to change your method. The contraceptive method you used in the past, especially if it contains hormones, may not work best for you now. Talk to your gynecologist about which birth control option is right for you during perimenopause, which may include treatment in one of the following broad categories of contraceptives.

Combination Contraceptives

Combination birth control contains both estrogen and progestin. These may include pills, vaginal rings or skin patches and are considered highly effective. Combination contraceptives offer a wide range of options.

Progestin Only Birth Control

Progestin contraceptives do not contain estrogen and can be found in the form of pills, implants and IUDs. Without the estrogen, they are considered safer for women who are susceptible to blood clots, and they carry a lower risk of endometrium cancer. Progestin-only birth control, however, is not as effective or reliable as combination contraceptives.

Sterilization Procedures

By the time that perimenopause hits, many women are very confident that they do not want any children at this later stage of life. For these women, a sterilization procedure or permanent birth control method can be considered. Sterilization can include tubal ligation for women or a vasectomy for a male partner. These procedures eliminate the need for ongoing birth control.

At North Pointe OB/GYN, we know that it is not always easy to find a birth control method that agrees with your body and lifestyle. Therefore, we proudly offer contraceptive counseling to women of all ages, including those in perimenopause. Schedule your visit with us in Cumming today.


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