Nearing menopause and continuing with your birth control pill? Learn about the effects of birth control pills during menopause and what you can expect.
About 99% of sexually active women in the US use some form of contraceptive, and birth control pills are the most commonly used ones. However, although birth control pills are mostly used for preventing unwanted pregnancies, there are several other functions that many are not aware of.
Although the benefits and side effects of birth control pills can manifest differently for various women, some general functions remain the same. When it comes to women going through menopause, it can have yet another effect than that seen in younger women. Because women going through menopause or peri-menopause undergo hormonal imbalances, the birth control pills might function differently for them.
Dr. Karen Pike, chief of staff of one of the foremost hospitals in the US and an emergency room doctor herself, discusses the various aspects of birth control pills on menopausal women. Most women are not aware of them and how they can affect them in their late forties and early fifties. Here is Dr. Karen Pike’s invaluable information for you.
Interview with Dr. Karen Pike
Hello Dr. Pike! Thank you for your time and all that you are doing to spread awareness among women about the various aspects of menopause. We would like to know about the various ways in which birth control pills affect menopause. So, without further delay, let us dive in.
Question: Do women undergoing menopause need birth control pills to begin with? Aren’t the chances of getting pregnant negligible?
Dr. Pike: Thank you for having me! To answer your question, yes, women who have undergone menopause may not need birth control pills because, after menopause, the ovaries stop releasing eggs each month. They also produce far lesser amounts of hormones that result in getting pregnant.
However, menopause is defined as not having menses for twelve consecutive months. Until that happens, it is advisable to take birth control pills to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
That is because although the chances of pregnancy are low, it is not impossible to get pregnant during peri-menopause. Only after you have gone without menses for twelve months consecutively should you contact your doctor and stop your pills after consulting them.
Question: That was very enlightening. Can birth control pills have a negative impact on hormones in any way when taken long-term? Especially as one approaches menopause?
Dr. Pike: Birth control pills can have different effects on different women. Ethnicity, physiology, and family history can play a part in how they can affect their physiology. However, by and large, the pills are not only effective for birth control, but they have several other functions as well.
They can regulate hormonal imbalances, minimize hot flashes, reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and uterine cancer, reduce the risk of anemia, lessen the intensity of menstrual cramps and migraines, and also treat uterine fibroids to a certain extent.
Hence, the idea that birth control pills can be harmful when taken over a long period is erroneous. Yes, some women may experience side effects at various stages of their lives, including menopause. For that, they need to consult an experienced gynecologist. But blaming birth control pills in totality is a gross misconception.
Question: So, is it true that birth control pills can delay menopause, especially in some cases?
Dr. Pike: Yes, I have noticed many women want to know how birth control pills delay menopause. However, menopause cannot be delayed. It is inevitable, and women usually undergo menopause between the ages of 45 to 55.
However, there is something you have to understand here. Birth control pills will not delay menopause, but you may not realize you are undergoing menopause if you are on birth control pills.
Birth control pills can regulate your menses. So, any kind of spotting, irregular periods, or hot flashes that you may have experienced while transitioning into menopause, from peri-menopause, will be absent when you are taking birth control pills. You may feel like your periods are normal.
It is only after you stop taking the pills that menopause sets in. However, not taking your pills will increase your chances of unwanted pregnancy. Hence, you must consult a doctor about it.
Question: Can menopause affect the overall health in any way that birth control pills may prevent?
Dr. Pike: When you go into menopause, you are definitely going to see a lot of changes in your body because of the hormonal imbalances. Your estrogen production goes down rapidly, and this is why you will notice dryness of the skin, hair fall, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and libido. Birth control pills regulate your hormones and can manage all these issues for a long time indeed.
However, just because you are seeing these wonderful results, it could be tempting to keep on taking the pills for a long time. You should not do this without consulting a doctor.
If your menses stop as soon as you stop the pills and remain so for twelve months, then it is obvious you have hit menopause. Keeping on taking those pills, unless your doctor advises you to take them for treating some specific issue, would be a mistake.
Question: Will any kind of birth control pill have the same effect?
Dr. Pike: Usually, there are two kinds of birth control pills. There are the POP or the progesterone-only pill, and there is the combination pill. What kind of pill you should go for should only be decided by your doctor after doing extensive blood work to see your hormone levels.
The combination pill has both artificial estrogen and progesterone, and they can have some side effects like lack of appetite, low sex drive, and mood swings. If you take them during peri-menopause without consultation, then they may aggravate the issues further since these issues are common during this phase. If you take the POP pill, then you should be mindful of not taking it beyond 55 years of age.
Question: All of this is quite enlightening, but it seems that many women do not know about many of these things.
Dr. Pike: Yes, that is rather unfortunate and predominantly why I have chosen to work in this area. Women in earlier days had no idea at all about the various ways in which their bodies change internally and externally as they transition into menopause. All they have been made to feel is a sense of loss because their child-bearing years have come to an end.
But almost no one had the resources to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of women at this stage. The fact that the medical field is also widely male-dominated, even today, does not help.
Thankfully, women have access to more resources online these days. You can read my articles to know more. I have extensively discussed quite a few issues that women undergo during menopause and how to stay active and healthy at this stage of life.
Dr. Karen Pike is working relentlessly for the well-being of menopausal women and is striving to provide more information, making it her life’s mission. Women undergoing peri-menopause and menopause go through many issues, like deterioration in bone health, hair loss, lack of sleep, night sweats, and more.
All of this, along with the idea of old age setting in, can make a woman quite distraught. Using birth control pills at this stage can manage quite a few issues, but it is advisable to consult the doctor about the nature, dose, and duration of continuing with your birth control pills.
About The Author
This Article Is Written By WMDR Team. Our Vision Is To Create A Community Where A Woman Can Get Access To All The Free Resources To Help Her In Her Health, Mental Wellness, And In her Personal Relationships.