One of the more common questions we receive from patients is when they can safely stop worrying about birth control. The truth is, it’s common for women in their 40’s or even early 50s to stop thinking about contraception a bit too soon. While a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant decline as she ages, the vast majority of women in their early-to-mid 40’s can still become pregnant. Regardless of whether you are finished having children or still considering becoming pregnant for the first time, birth control is the last line of defense between you and the unexpected.
According to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 75% of pregnancies in women in their 40’s or older are unplanned. As women age, the potential risks of pregnancy complications and miscarriage can also rise. So, if you want to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, it’s very important to continue using effective birth control until you have reached menopause. This is typically defined by a full year without experiencing a menstrual cycle.
By this point in your life, you’re probably pretty well-versed in that variety of available birth control methods. The question now is, which method makes the most sense for you now? The answer depends on whether or not you are open to becoming pregnant in the future. We recommend anything from the following three categories for women in their 40’s or older who prefer to keep their options open in regards to future pregnancy:
Birth Control Pills: Women in their 40’s can still safely use oral contraception, as long as they don’t smoke, have normal blood pressure and are in good overall health.
Other Hormonal Options: This may include patches, IUDs, implants and other estrogen-based options like the NuvaRing® device. The Depo-Provera shot is another long-lasting birth control option for women in their 40’s.
Barrier Options: Barrier birth control methods, including diaphragms and condoms, are available (but considerably less common) for women in their 40’s and beyond.
For women who are sure that they do not want to become pregnant, we offer long-term birth control options like a tubal ligation procedure. Even for women beyond age 40 who may be closer to menopause, choosing the right birth control method is a complicated decision that requires considerable thought and consideration. If you’re not sure which contraceptive approach is best for you, we invite you to contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett to request an appointment with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Kristine E. Gould. For more information on birth control, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more tips, updates, and news on our upcoming Health and Wellness events.