Question #2: Do I still need birth control?
A recent study shows that women over 40 are almost as likely to have unplanned pregnancies as 16-year-olds. Certain myths, like thinking you're too old to get pregnant, contribute to women over 40 getting pregnant.
Birth control after 40
- Unless you have officially entered menopause you need to use contraception, even if you've had infertility in the past.
- If you don't smoke or have any other risk factors, you can safely take the pill under the advice of your doctor. Women over 40 on the pill reap other benefits like treating peri-menopausal symptoms, PMS and fibroids.
Question #1: Is it menopause?
It's important for women over 40 to know how to recognize menopause. Very simply, menopause is a clinical diagnosis based on not having had a period for 12 consecutive months, provided there's no other reason, such as being pregnant or nursing. Learn more about identifying irregular patterns in your period here.
The average age for menopause onset is 51. Women have menopausal symptoms beforehand if they undergo menopause earlier or experience peri-menopause - an approximate 2-10 year time span of having periods along with some menopausal symptoms.
Common symptoms associated with peri-menopause and menopause include: missed periods, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, forgetfulness, low libido and mood swings. Sleep disturbances, an often overlooked symptom, are also very common.