You’ve just embarked on the most carefree, golden years of your life. The ones reserved for endless naps and carefree travel, and deprived of periods, pain and problems.
Not having to wrangle a last-minute contraceptive from your bedside drawer, check.
Menopause is often considered a free ticket to contraceptive-free intercourse. But because it often manifests in stages, what you might think of as menopause may simply be a prelude. Which means, if you’re not careful, you may just land yourself a baby.
Menopause can cause great changes to your body, the most significant being the absence of your monthly menstrual period. As your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop, they stop promoting ovulation and pregnancy and your fertility arc reaches an all-time low. That being said, menopause is a process that can endure for several years, presenting women with the feeling of being in limbo. During this time, although chances are low, pregnancy is still possible, thanks to intermittent hormonal spikes.
Signs of Menopause
Menopause displays several signs, of which you may experience few or many. Some of these include:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings
- Reduced libido
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Stiff joints
As menopause persists, these symptoms may come and go, waning and growing in severity. It is easy to mistake a temporary absence of symptoms as the close of menopause. For a definitive diagnosis, however, you must meet a gynaecologist to seek a comprehensive evaluation.
Avoiding Pregnancy After Menopause
It’s best to err on the side of caution with regard to contraception during menopause. For women who are forty or older, birth control pills may not elicit effective results. An intrauterine device, a diaphragm or even a surgery like tubal ligation may be recommended to you as an option. Conversely, if you’ve already crossed menopause and decide that you want to have a baby, you may want to consider a donor egg. By seeking a high-quality egg from a young donor, you can still carry the pregnancy yourself, and have a higher chance of seeing it through to full term. However, it is important to note that an advanced age could also imply a higher risk of embolisms, strokes, seizures and haemorrhage.
When to Safely Stop Using Contraception
It is easy to second-guess yourself while going through menopause, wondering if you’ll ever be able to get off contraception. The truth is, there’s no sacrosanct timeline for when you will. This is usually dependent on your personal medical profile and your family history. Typically, a ten-year window of menopausal symptoms is considered a safe timeline after which you can forego birth control. So, if you’re still in that period, it’s a good idea to keep up the contraceptives.
Go on, plan life after menopause the way you intended it. All it takes is a little extra care.