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What Are the Birth Control Options for Women Over 40?

Women over 40 can use a variety of hormonal and nonhormonal contraceptive options, including the birth control pill, patch, ring, shot, IUDs, condoms, and diaphragms. Some factors might influence birth control choices for women this age, including perimenopausal symptoms, lower fertility rates, desire for children (or lack thereof), and other health concerns.

Perimenopause and Birth Control

Hormonal contraceptive options that contain estrogen might help alleviate symptoms of perimenopause in women over 40. Some doctors recommend birth control pills for perimenopausal women to make their periods lighter and more regular. The estrogen in birth control pills might also help relieve hot flashes.

Efficacy Levels in Birth Control

Women have significantly lower fertility levels in their 40s. Because they have much lower chances of becoming pregnant, some women this age are more comfortable using birth control options with slightly lower efficacy levels, such as condoms, the withdrawal method, or natural family planning.

It’s good to note, women over 40 can still become pregnant using these methods. Therefore, they should still consider contraceptive options with higher efficacy rates, such as the pill, patch, ring, shot, or IUD.

Permanent vs. Temporary Birth Control

Birth control can help ensure women over 40 don’t experience unplanned pregnancies. Women who wish to remain child-free or don’t want more children might consider female sterilization as a permanent birth control measure. With menopause approaching, however, these women should weigh the pros and cons of continuing birth control use versus having an invasive procedure performed.

Other Health Concerns

Some health issues women in their 40s experience might affect which birth control they choose. For example, the birth control shot can affect bone density, so it might not be a good fit for a woman with osteoporosis. The risk of deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, blood clots, stroke, and heart attack increases with age, so women over 35 might be advised to take progestin-only pills rather than pills containing estrogen (which is also linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues).

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