Some women mistakenly believe that during the transition to menopause, they cannot get pregnant. The reality is that even though a woman's fertility has declined, she can still get pregnant. If you are in perimenopause, here is what you need to know to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
Why Is It Possible to Still Get Pregnant?
During perimenopause, your menstrual cycle can sometimes be irregular. It is not uncommon for women to go months without a period. However, a missing period does not automatically mean you are in menopause.
Menopause involves not having a period for at least 12 consecutive months. The perimenopause stage, or the transition from regular cycles to none, can last up to several years. During that transitional period, you are still experiencing ovulation. As a result, you can get pregnant.
Is Taking Oral Contraceptives the Right Move?
There is some debate as to whether or not oral contraceptives are right for every woman during perimenopause. Oral contraceptives can sometimes mask the symptoms of menopause. The contraceptives have a combination of progestin and estrogen, which works to suppress ovulation.
The suppression makes it difficult for an OB/GYN to determine whether a patient is experiencing menopause or simply the effects of the pill. It is important to note that the pill does not stop menopause though. It simply makes it difficult to diagnose.
Despite the masking effect, oral contraceptives are routinely recommended by some OB/GYNs. If a doctor suspects that a patient is going through menopause, he or she can measure the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone in the blood to determine if she is.
Can Anyone Take Oral Contraceptives?
As with other forms of contraceptives, there are some risk factors to consider before taking them. For instance, there is an increased risk of blood clots. Before taking the medication, your OB/GYN will screen you to determine if there is anything in your medical history that would point to a likelihood of experiencing side effects.
If you have a history of heart disease, blood clots, or estrogen-dependent cancer, your doctor might recommend using another form of contraceptive. For instance, many women have found success with the use of vaginal rings and progestin injections. There are also non-hormonal methods available, including the use of a diaphragm with spermicide.
Talk to your OB/GYN to learn whether or not oral contraceptives is the right move for you and to explore other possible options.