Birth Control Pills & Other Methods That Are Safe for Women Over 35

Health Check 14

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

birth control, sex life


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nonmember avatar Kristi

Or you could use NFP, of course most people are too lazy to take the two or three minutes a day it takes. Popping a pill or getting something injected into you is so much easier *eye roll*

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

NFP doesn't work for everyone. I tried it for almost two years while trying to get pregnant and my charts were all over the place. When your cycles are totally screwy it just doesn't work. 

I am currently trying to decide what the best option is for me and it's a nightmare. I haven't used anything in years but we have two kids now and I'm done so I need something but it's so confusing. I decided to just use condoms for a while and put off the big decision and even that was confusing, they were a lot less complicated a decade ago! 

Deborah TruthfulMommy Cruz

@kristi NFP is what I have been using for the past 5 years. I know my body and you are right, it only takes a few minutes a day but some people don't have that time to learn their body's signs.I learned when I was trying to conceive and it's carried over. It's especially hard when you have small children and your focus is elsewhere. But you are right, NFP is a very valid and effective choice if that's what someone chooses to do.

Deborah TruthfulMommy Cruz

@rhonda Veggie I certainly agree that it gets complicated when your cycle is not regular. There are a lot of options out there, I am sure you will find something that youare comfortable with. When I was in college, I was the posterchild for birth control but pills made me sick so I used condoms and vaginal inserts, which was hilarious because it looked like my vagina had rabies:) Thank God for an understanding boyfriend who never felt the need to laugh. I, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious but safe. SOmetimes safety is not pretty:)

bleed... bleedingheart8D

I got my tubes tied after suffering terribly from PPD. Best birth control in the world.

Miriam Kennedy

Kristi, irregular periods make NFP a real problem when approaching menopause. The irony is if your system is perfect it works great, but if something is wrong with you and you REALLY need to avoid pregnancy - that's just the time NFP doesn't work - also you have to have a partner that cooperates (which for me would mean always doing it on safe days and/or using condoms/vag inserts on the questionable days- not just saying "never mind we don't need to have sex if it's going to be on a schedule- too much trouble") 

darkfyre darkfyre

Why are you portraying copper IUDs as a long term only alternative? Especially when the pill you are recommending is notoriasly unreliable. Copper IUDs are effective for up to 10 years yes, but they can be removed at ANY time and fertility returns immediately. It as effective as sterilisation and very low risk. I have mysecond one currently. I will have it removed in 2 years when we start ttc again. Please give facts not perceptions.

333sandy 333sandy

I though my low dose pill was safe too. At 32 (and a healthy non smoker) I wound up hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism. It was terrifying and the most painful thing I have ever experienced. The nurse told me it's amazing how many people they see who are "low risk". Birth control is a big business with big money to be made. My last pregnancy came after that happened which bumped me into "high risk pregnancy ". I had to be on blood thinners throughout the pregnancy and a few months after. I was just one huge bruise after 2 shots a day for so many months. I'm terrified of hormones now. Praying for an easy menopause because my cardiologist who saw me through it says no more!

LoriA... LoriAnn87

I have a history of cancer in my family I rather take something that has low or no hormones at all so that's why I'm going with paragard.

Roses... Rosesandlilys

Yaz is the devil. That is all.

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