Hormonal contraception in women over 35

Contraception is a crucial issue for all women who wish to prevent a pregnancy, including those who are over their mid-thirties. 

Should you take hormonal contraception?

The belief that a woman in her mid thirties and older should abstain from using hormonal contraception is widespread. Is this belief founded on reliable data or not? Let's shed some light on this often murky question.

It isn't uncommon for a woman who is getting older to question whether or not she should stop taking hormonal contraception. This is a legitimate question. The decision to take medication is always an important one.

Hormonal contraception is often associated with the birth control pill. It's important to know that medication containing hormones intended for contraception can take various forms: oral tablet, patch, vaginal ring, injectable solution, and intrauterine device.

Women's fertility

Most women reach their peak reproductive abilities in their late twenties. A woman's fertility then decreases as she ages. The closer she is to menopause, the lower her chances of becoming pregnant. However, the risk of pregnancy remains as long as menopause has not been reached.

Menopause is the stage of life where hormonal changes mark the end of ovulation and menstruation. It usually occurs between the ages of 46 and 54, but can sometimes occur earlier (in the early forties). A woman is considered to be menopausal when she hasn't been menstruated for more than a year.

The period preceding menopause is called perimenopause. The menstrual cycle becomes irregular and menstruation lasts for a shorter time. During this time, a women must use contraception to ensure that she does not become pregnant if she is sexually active.

CLEAR BENEFITS

Other than contraception, hormonal methods have the following benefits:

  • regulate the menstrual cycle
  • decrease menstrual flow
  • diminish premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms
  • decrease hot flashes caused by perimenopause
  • prevent osteoporosis (for some methods, but not all)
  • reduce the risk of ovarian, endometrial, and colon cancer

There are risks as well

Hormonal contraception is not suitable for all women. Like any other medication, it is necessary to take into consideration certain contraindications, warnings, drug interactions, and adverse effects. Moreover, the risk of some of them increases with age, especially for one of the serious adverse effects: thromboembolism (blood clot). This explains in part why some older women and some healthcare professionals hesitate to use or recommend them.

Blood clots can form in the legs, lungs, heart, eyes or brain, and lead to severe repercussions. The risk of a blood clot increases with age and in the presence of certain factors: smoking, obesity, immobility, personal or family history of blood clots, high blood pressure, diabetes, migraines, etc. Note that pregnancy also significantly increases this risk.

The medical community and manufacturers of hormonal contraceptives issue warnings about their use in the presence of blood clot risk factors. Among other things, it is recommended to avoid the use of hormonal contraception in smokers over the age of 35, or at least to consider it with great caution. This is another reason to quit smoking for good! If you are considering to quit smoking, your pharmacist can advise and support you.

Speak to your doctor or pharmacist for additional information about the contraindications and warnings associated with hormonal contraception use.

A DECISION THAT WARRANTS ATTENTION

The decision to use hormonal contraception must be based on a personal evaluation by taking into consideration several factors, including a woman's age, personal and family history, medication, personal situation, lifestyle, preferences, etc. The final decision should be based on an assessment of the benefits and risks that could be associated with it.

In sum, a women could very well use hormonal contraception until menopause, especially if she is in good health. However, this option is not always suitable, for various reasons. If you wish to use a contraceptive method, ask your doctor and pharmacist to help you choose the best option for you!

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Hormonal contraception in women over 35

Contraception is a crucial issue for all women who wish to prevent a pregnancy, including those who are over their mid-thirties.
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