Happy Birthday, Mom...A Quick Guide To Reversible And Non-Hormonal Birth Control That You're In Charge Of After The Big 4-0
As your 40th birthday approaches, whether your family is already complete or you're just sure that a new baby doesn't need to be in your immediate future, it's important to be aware of what your safest methods of birth control will be in your 40's or beyond. Unfortunately, some of the hormonal birth control, including the pill, are contraindicated for women who are 40 years of age or above. Often, the restrictions against birth control pills exist for patients in that age group who smoke, are obese or have a history of blood clots, migraines or high blood pressure. Therefore, it's a good idea to discuss the possibility of new plans for birth control with your physician prior to your 40th birthday, which may include the choices mentioned below.
The Diaphragm With Spermicide
The diaphragm is an example of a barrier method of birth control and requires a bit of advance notice in order for it to work effectively. It needs to be placed over your cervix prior to intimacy and it must remain there are for six hours after. Your doctor can fit you for it and you'll learn to use it. You can also expect to be educated as to the application of an approved spermicide to increase the effectiveness of the diaphragm, which often makes its insertion and consistent use easier.
It's important to note that the failure rate of the device is about 12% at the end of the first 12 months, given the typical use of the product. However, when patients are adequately educated as to the use of the product and use it properly each time, the failure rate drops to 6%. If that 6% is still too high for you, it's best to talk with your partner and physician to see about adding on another form of non-hormonal birth control, such as the female or male condom. Sole use of the diaphragm and spermicide for birth control is typically best for healthy individuals in a monogamous relationship, as it offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections, or STIs.
The IUD, or intrauterine device, is another type of barrier birth control. However, the IUD is unique in that it's available with and without hormones. Since hormones, specifically estrogen, are often associated with no longer being able to take the pill after 40, the non-hormonal choice is likely to be of special interest to you. It's implanted into your uterus in a minimally invasive procedure in your doctor's office and is wrapped in copper, which changes the functionality of sperm with which it comes into contact. That change prevents pregnancy in the vast majority of women.
The IUD without hormones is a copper IUD known as Paragard and boasts a 99% success rate. While it's completely reversible, it can also protect you from pregnancy for up to 12 years if left in place. That means that if being unsure if you want another child at 40 results in realizing you're fine with your current family situation a few years later, you could theoretically use the same form of birth control from around your 40th birthday until the average age of menopause, at 51, with no worries. As with the diaphragm, the IUD cannot prevent the transmission of STIs, so if you are not monogamous and use the copper IUD, the consistent use of condoms is recommended.
In conclusion, some of the health challenges that manifest after a woman's 40th birthday will prevent her from being able to safely and effectively depend on birth control pills as a sole means of contraception. As a result, it's essential to discuss your concerns with professionals, like the ones at Anchorage OB, and to be aware that your birth control needs might have to change in your 40s, as explained above.