Do I Need Birth Control After Menopause?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

I'm 43 and having hot flashes and irregular periods. My doctor says these are symptoms of perimenopause. Since I am not having regular periods, can I stop using birth control?

Doctor's response

Don't stop birth control unless you'd welcome a pregnancy. Perimenopause is defined as the transition to menopause and includes the first year after your final menstrual period. The length of the perimenopause varies widely among women and generally lasts anywhere from two to eight years.

During this time, you will likely have irregular menstrual cycles. The cycles may be shorter or longer than your usual cycles, and you may frequently "skip" periods. Another characteristic of the perimenopause is the increased occurrence of anovulatory cycles (menstrual bleeding in the absence of ovulation). However, as long as you're having menstrual bleeding, you may not know whether or not you are ovulating, and it is possible to still ovulate in some cycles and not in others during this time.

If you are sexually active and do not want to risk pregnancy, you should continue using birth control throughout the perimenopause.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE:

"Patient information: Menopause (Beyond the Basics)"
UpToDate.com

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Reviewed on 7/24/2017
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