We said it once, we’ll say it again
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about birth control for women over 40, and it probably won’t be the last. In case you’ve forgotten what you need to know, we’re here to refresh you. Let’s start with a recap of what your body—sex drive, menopause, and all—is feeling:
Your body has the feels—all of them.
- Sex Drive: Despite what pop culture and Hollywood may have led you to believe, your sex drive really kicks into gear in your 30s and 40s—meaning that you’re going to need birth control whether or not you believe you are fertile. Fortunately, you’ve also reached an age where you know exactly what you want in the bedroom, and studies show the sex is more satisfying than it was in your 20s.
- Fertility: While it’s true that fertility declines with age, you’ve seen plenty of Hollywood starlets showing off their baby bumps well into middle-age. Unless you’re experiencing menopause, you’re still able to conceive—so plan accordingly.
- Menopause: Forget the horror stories you may have heard, and let’s focus on the facts: menopause can begin as early as your 30s and as late as your 60s. It progresses in stages, but you aren’t out of the woods until you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. Until then, you’ll want some form of birth control.
This transition period is rough on your body—you’re going to have irregular periods and mood swings when you’re already a busy woman. Don’t let it slow you down; just talk to your doctor about which birth control method may help your body out. Often, a hormonal birth control can help regulate what your uterus is doing without severely impacting the rest of your body.
There are two main types of birth control: hormonal and non-hormonal. Hormonal birth controls focus on using progesterone, instead of estrogen, to help regulate what’s going on with your body. They rarely have negative effects on the body, and can be used for months—sometimes years—at a time. Non-hormonal methods provide protection against pregnancy but aren’t as effective as hormonal methods. Before you decide which method you want to pursue, talk to your doctor.
Non-Surgical Contraception: Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to do anything drastic. With menopause on the horizon, taking birth control for a few more years doesn’t seem so bad, right?
- The Pill definitely isn’t the same as your mother’s birth control; those horror stories you may have heard are a thing of the past. With the low-dose of estrogen is a daily oral contraception which works best when taken at the same time each day. Rumor has it that the pill can even help ease some menopause symptoms, but it isn’t intended for use by women who are overweight, have high blood pressure, or smoke.
- Rings & Patches: While they all have different names, the function is the same: a hormonal birth control that are often worn for three weeks and taken off the week of your period. Since it is still a hormonal birth control, it can also have an effect on period-related symptoms such as breakouts and bloating.
- Injections, IUDs and arm bands, oh my! Some forms of birth control, such as the Depo-Provera injection, are slightly more permanent than the Pill or a patch would be. Often, they’ll take away your period altogether (what a relief!) and require re-application every three months (in some cases years).
Surgical Contraception: Of course, if you know what you want—and that’s to not have to worry about babies—then permanent, surgical contraceptive methods are always an option.
- Tubal Litigation is a fancy term for having your “tubes tied:” a surgical procedure in which your fallopian tubes are disconnected from your uterus. Often, this is an easy procedure that requires a few days of recovery and a few months of contraceptive use after—just to be sure.
- Tubal Occlusion is a newer procedure, also known as “essure.” This is a modified version of the litigation, since your surgeon only inserts a device into each fallopian tube to encourage tissue to grow and form a permanent barrier. The recovery time is much shorter than it would be for tubal litigation, and often more successful.
Although abstinence is always an effective option, sometimes it isn’t the right option for you. If you’re over 40 and wondering about birth control, talk to us! We’re happy to help you find a viable method that is right for you and your busy lifestyle.