We have all heard the mantra: women over 35 should never take ‘the Pill.’ But is there any truth to this old adage? Or is it just another menopausal myth that we have been forced to accept? Deciding whether to continue taking birth control pills after 35 does require some careful thought. But as this article points out, this persistent myth has forced many women to give up not only their favored form of contraception but also a helpful resource.
Taking birth control pills after the age of 35 is not for every woman. Depending on several factors, some women may be at greater risk for some health conditions. The most important thing is to talk to your doctor. Together you can decide if birth control pills are the right choice for you and how they may impact your overall health.
Smoking and women over 35
For years, women have been told that taking birth control pills over 35 puts them and their health at risk. One of the most important things to remember is that the risks are greater for women over 35 who smoke. Smoking is linked to several other health issues and diseases, and it impacts the increased hormonal levels associated with birth control pills. Do yourself a favor and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, high blood pressure and many other health problems – give up on the smoking before you toss out your birth control pills.
The Pill and cancer
We have been led to believe that birth control pills are unsafe, especially for women over 35, because the pills increase the risks of developing cancer. But more studies are indicating that birth control pills can actually decrease the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers by as much as 50%.
Breast cancer has often been blamed on birth control pills. But there are additional factors that affect a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer including a family history of the disease, lifestyle choices such as smoking or drinking alcohol and poor diet or lack of exercise. Unfortunately studies tend to appear contradictory and some still indicate a slight risk of breast cancer associated with using birth control pills. But it is best to consult with your doctor to examine all the risk factors and whether they apply to you. As for cervical cancer, many studies are also inconclusive.
Very low dose birth control pills
Women should still be concerned about pregnancy during menopause, and will still need to use some form of birth control until monthly periods have stopped completely. Coming off your current pills can give your body a chance to get back to its natural hormonal state, but will leave you exposed to possible pregnancy. Your doctor can recommend a much lower dose birth control pill.
Low dose and very low dose birth control pills still act in the same way as their higher dose counterparts. There are still enough hormones present to keep menstrual cycles under control and prevent unexpected pregnancies. At the same time, the hormones found in these pills can help alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings.
Low dose birth control pills can be found under the names LoEstrin /120 or Alesse; these pills contain 20 micrograms of estrogen compared to regular birth control pills which contain anywhere between 30 to 50 micrograms of estrogen.
Taking birth control pills after 35 can still be a viable option for many women. As with any medication, knowing the possible risks associated with your personal health and lifestyle choices are crucial. Being over 35 does not have to mean the end of your life as peri-menopause sets in, nor does it have to mean the end of your favored form of birth control. You may end up benefitting far more with ‘the Pill’ than without it.
Get some more information that you can use during your next doctor visit at:
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You