Is It Safe To Take The Contraceptive Pill After 35?

contraception after 40
Is The Pill Safe To Take After 35?

According to the chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of Florida College, it is safe to take the contraceptive pill right up to menopause, as long as the woman is generally in good health, is not overweight and does not smoke. In fact continuing to take the Pill during perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) may even help to reduce menopause problems like hot flushes and irregular periods. That said, you might be whammed with the symptoms when you go cold turkey and stop taking your pills. The main fuss about taking the pill after the age of 35, is that studies show it can raise blood pressure and lower 'good' HDL cholesterol levels in some women. It may also worsen glucose intolerance (leading to type 2 diabetes) and increase the risk of uncommon blood clots. To be on the safe side, doctors usually recommend alternative methods of contraception to women who:

Are Obese: Women with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. This doubles their risk of dangerous blood clots.
Smoke: If you smoke, especially if you smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day, never take the Pill, particularly after the age of 35. It increases your stroke and heart attack risk factors. Read more about contraceptive pills side effects, in relation to smokers.
Are Diabetic: Scientists still don't know for sure if the Pill can affect diabetic's blood sugar levels. To be on the safe side the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), suggests that all women with diabetes stop taking the Pill after 35.
Migraines: ACOG recommends against taking the Pill for all women who suffer migraines because the combination raises their risk factors for stroke nearly 3-fold.
High Cholesterol: If you have 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels over 160 mg/dL, you should avoid using the Pill. Also avoid it if you have a family history of heart disease.

Alternative Contraception After 35

If you have one or more of the above risk factors, you probably should avoid taking the Pill after 35. Safer alternative options are:

1. Condoms: Condoms, including the female condom, have the added bonus of protecting you from STD's.
2. Mirena IUD: Implanted in the womb it releases small amounts of hormones and lasts up to 5 years. Read about IUD devices as birth control.
3. Depo Provera Injection: A progesterone-only birth control injection that is given every 3 months.
4. Implanon Implant: A small rod the size of a matchstick which is inserted in the skin in the upper arm. Birth control implants release small doses of progestin to prevent pregnancy and last about 3 years.

Note: Natural birth control methods such as calendar rhythm method or tracking your basal body temperature are less effective as you approach menopause because they rely on periods being regular.

On The Plus Side

If you can continue taking the oral pill, newer brands on the market have many benefits, outside of just preventing pregnancy. These include:

1. Shorter menstrual periods.
2. Reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including less cramping.
3. Causing fewer cases of acne or body hair.
4. Reducing your risk of ovary cancer and endometrial cancer.
5. Reducing your risk of osteoporosis and ovary cysts.
6. With the newer pills it takes less time to get pregnant after stopping them. See, how long does it take to get pregnant after stopping the Pill?

Related Questions
Can you get pregnant while taking the Pill?
Worried about gaining weight? Will I gain weight on the contraceptive pill?
Emergency contraceptives: What is emergency contraception?
Can one replace the other? Can I use ordinary birth control pills for emergency contraception?

• Need more information? See: Birth Control Methods
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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