New Birth Control Options for Women Over 40

April 8th, 2008

Some women in their 40s can still get pregnant without assistance from fertility clinics. That’s good news for those who have postponed motherhood, but for women who have completed their family, continuing fertility can be problematic. Today, the Pill and the IUD (intra-uterine devices) are both considered good options for some women in their fourth decade. These two methods are much safer than, for example, in the 1960s and 1970s. In the past, most women over age 40 underwent a tubal ligation (a fallopian tube-tying procedure), or relied on condoms or vasectomy with their male partner.

Sterilization is now easier for women, thanks to a non-surgical method of tubal treatment called Essure. The new technique was approved by the U.S. government in 2002. No cutting of the abdomen or tying of the tubes is involved. Instead, the doctor works through the cervix, using a thin tube to insert small devices into the ends of the fallopian tubes. These “plugs” in about three months produce scarring to block the woman’s tubes, thus preventing ovulated eggs from reaching the uterus.

Women over 40 should continue to use until well into menopause. This age group has been shown to have high rates, similar to those of adolescents. Under certain conditions, the Pill is now safe for “older” women. The dosage of estrogen in today’s Pill is greatly reduced and considered by many physicians to be a good alternative for lean, healthy women over 40. The Pill has other benefits besides contraception for appropriate women. It can help to control irregular menstrual bleeding and hot flashes, reduce hip fractures and cases of . Yet, some physicians urge caution even in lean and healthy women who are approaching menopause.

If a woman over 40 is significantly overweight, has high blood pressure or diabetes, the Pill would not be a good option.  For them, the chances of dangerous blood clots rise sharply. Middle-aged women who are obese, who smoke, have migraine headaches or other identified risk factors might instead consider IUDs or progestin-only treatments termed “mini-pills.” Although higher rates have been found in older women taking estrogen-progestin pills to control menopausal symptoms, women 35 and older taking oral contraceptives have not shown an increase in breast cancers.

Another birth control product called Implanon, -approved in 2006, is a matchstick-sized plastic rod that is implanted under the skin of the upper arm. Implanon is similar to the earlier Norplant and can last up to three years.

Today’s IUDs are safer and more effective than those used by women in the 1970s. The earlier Dalkon Shield version resulted in a number of serious medical problems due to its defective design. A large class-action lawsuit was filed and millions in payouts were made over the years.  American women and their physicians are again considering the IUD as a simple and effective method of birth control.

Women should discuss with their OB-GYN physician their preferences for contraception, the appropriateness for their age group and their individual health risks. New options in birth control methods and technologies greatly reduce the risk of an unwanted .

San Francisco Chronicle, Mike Stobbe, AP story, April 5, 2008 

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Entry Filed under: ABORTION,Abortion,BIRTH CONTROL,Birth Control,Breast Cancer,CANCER,PREGNANCY & BIRTH,Pregnancy & Birth,WOMEN'S HEALTHCARE

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  • 1. New Birth Control Options&hellip  |  June 8th, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    [...] New Birth Control Options for Women Over 40 Healthcare Updates Posted by root 18 minutes ago ( Apr 8 2008 it can help to control irregular menstrual bleeding and hot flashes yet some physicians urge caution even in lean and healthy women who are approaching menopause leave a comment you must be logged in to post a comment icons by kevin potts power Discuss  |  Bury |  News | New Birth Control Options for Women Over 40 Healthcare Updates [...]

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