birth controlGood news for women over 35! For years we were told that birth control pills weren't safe for those of us of a certain age. Well, we've finally been given the green light to go back on contraception, and not only is it okay, it is beneficial.

A recent study has shown that the benefits of being on the pill outweigh the risks for most types used by women over the age of 40. There are even safe options for those with risk factors like high blood pressure. An added bonus: some are actually good for alleviating perimenopausal symptoms like hot flashes and heavy menstrual bleeding.

If you are concerned about oral contraceptives increasing your risk of cancer, there has never been a study that’s shown a negative link between them. In fact, using them is associated with a reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer.

This is amazing news for me and lots of women I know. You see, I just turned 40 and many of my girlfriends are in their mid-30s and up. We are all at that point in life where we are not supposed to be on birth control because of increased health risks, but at the same time, we want to have active sex lives. After all, we are not shriveled up and dead. Hell, we are probably more active than we were five years ago because our kids are older. We are at a place where we can shut the bedroom door and those little people are staying in their own beds. But what are we supposed to do about birth control? It’s a little hard to get your freak on spontaneously when you are worrying about pregnancy.

Our doctors warn us of the increased risk of a heart attack or stroke on the pill. As a result, many woman in their late 30s have unexpectedly found themselves with child after being taken off birth control. Not exactly the sort of surprise you want when your youngest is starting to think about college. Know what else can give you a heart attack at 40? An unexpected pregnancy, which can damn near be fatal. Even though women over 40 experience a decline in fertility, we can still get pregnant. It’s a cruel joke: perimenopause and pregnancy together like acne and middle age. It makes no sense, yet here we are.

But now there are alternatives to playing reproductive Russian roulette. You might consider getting yourself progestin implants, copper IUDs, or sterilization, all very effective and long-term. If you are past the point of wanting to have any more children, these are good choices. But if you are not quite ready to commit to something so "permanent," diaphragms and condoms are very effective birth control. Failure rate is lower among us ladies over 35 because we are not afraid to wrap it up or take it home. No glove, no love, Sweetie.

If you want to stick with the pill, there are some that are more high-risk than others. Stay away from contraceptives that contain a mix of estrogen and progesterone because they are the ones that will double your risk of heart attack and stroke. That includes the vaginal ring and skin patch. Pills containing estrogen and the progestin drospirenone such as Yaz, Yasmin, and Beyaz are twice as likely to be associated with blood clots in leg veins, so also steer clear of those products if you are over 35.

The highest-risk contraceptive pills are those with more estrogen. Women who are over 35, smoke, and use the pill are at the greatest risk of heart complications. The good news is that we can be all over those progestin-only contraceptives with little to no increased dangers as well as some actual benefits.

Sexual spontaneity is no longer just for those in their 20s. We middle-aged moms can finally get it on without worry, with the help of a little protection. And that’s a good thing for all of us.

Will birth control spice up your sex life? What kind do you use?

 

Image via Starbooze/Flickr