In your forties, a lot of things change. You seem to be finding a new grey hair every morning, the creases by your eyes look more noticeable and your body feels like it’s aching in spots you never knew existed. But amidst all these changes, some things stay the same. A lot of women over 40 believe they don’t need to use contraception anymore because they’re not as fertile as they once were. While fertility levels do drop with age, you’re still fully capable of becoming pregnant if you’re not careful. So if you don’t want to have children or don’t want to have any more children, here are some options to consider using.
1. Birth Control Pills
Women above the age of 40 can continue to safely use oral contraceptive pills. However, there are some precautions you need to take. If you want to safely use contraceptive pills in your 40s, you need to make sure you completely stop smoking because this can increase your chances of getting a heart attack. In addition to this, make sure your blood pressure levels are normal and that you have no history of cardiovascular disease. If everything checks out, you can continue using oral contraceptives until you’re 50.
2. Progesterone Injections Or Implants
Contraceptives using progesterone alone as usually recommended because they don’t come with too many side effects. You can get a progesterone injection from your gynecologist, which should be effective for a few months. If you’re looking at an option that will last longer, consider getting an implant. Progesterone implants usually look like small rods and are inserted into your body. The procedure is very simple and can be done by your gynecologist in one quick session. Once implanted, the device is effective for many years.
3. Patches Or Rings
Contraceptive rings and patches usually use the hormone estrogen to prevent pregnancy. A contraceptive ring is like a diaphragm that you insert into your vagina. Once you insert it, you leave it in for three weeks and then remove it for one week. The ring secretes hormones which prevents your ovaries from releasing an egg. It also thickens mucus around your cervix, which prevents sperm from traveling up. Patches are soaked with hormones and can be stuck to your skin. They release hormones into your bloodstream and prevent conception.
4. A Copper-T
Non-hormonal forms of contraception are a good option if you don’t want the side-effects hormonal contraceptives can sometimes have. However, they are not as effective as hormonal forms of contraceptives and are generally not popular among women above 35. Copper-Ts are the most commonly used physical contraceptives. They need to be implanted by your gynecologist and usually last for many years.
5. Permanent Methods
If you’re absolutely certain you don’t want to have children, you can use more permanent forms of birth control. Most women who already have children and don’t want anymore, choose to get a tubal ligation, commonly called ‘getting your tubes tied’. If you don’t want surgery, you can choose to undergo a fallopian tube occlusion. In this procedure, a device is inserted into your fallopian tube, which causes tissue to grow within the tube. This tissue form a physical barrier that completely blocks sperm and prevents it from reaching the egg.
If you’re in a steady relationship, you can always insist that your partner get a vasectomy. Vasectomies are usually less complicated than surgical contraceptive options for women are. They are also painless and require no recovery times. If a vasectomy goes smoothly with no complications, you can even get it reversed if you change your mind about wanting children later.
So don’t take any chances with your birth control just because you’re over 40. Unless you want your 40s to be more unpredictable than you planned, speak to your gynecologist about the best birth control options for you.