Birth control options for women over 40

September 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Birth control after 40. With all the options, it can be confusing. Dr. Savitha Krishnan, OB/GYN at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation sheds some light on what may be best for you.

Given all the options available, women may find choosing a birth control method confusing. There isn't one solution for everyone. Women can make it a little easier by considering their lifestyle, goals and health status. Considering these factors when deciding on a birth control method will help them choose the method that is right for them:

  • Are you done having children?
  • How do you feel about planning ahead of time for sex?
  • How diligent are you about following directions, whether it's taking a pill every day or tracking your fertile days?
  • How sure are you that you don't want a child?
  • Do you have a monogamous partner?
  • How has your chosen method altered your sexual experience? (i.e. sexual spontaneity)
  • Are you at risk for a stroke? Do you smoke? Other health related questions such as these need to be taken into consideration.

For many women who are sure they no longer want children, tubal ligation or vasectomies have been perceived as the only options available. But again, we see many issues and myths surrounding these procedures as well. More and more women are learning that other, less invasive solutions exist. In a day and age when women have to get men to schedule vasectomies around the ESPN schedule - it is helpful for women to be fully informed about all the options available.

A great example of a solution for women finding themselves in this place is something called the Essure procedure. This is a highly effective permanent solution and it is performed in the comfort of a physician's office in less than an hour. The procedure involves small, flexible micro-inserts that are placed into the fallopian tubes that allow the body to form a natural barrier that prevents any sperm from reaching the egg.

For more information on the "Essure" permanent birth control method go to www.essure.com.

Statistics:

-- 48% of unintended conceptions in 2001 occurred during a month when contraceptives were used.

-- One in 20 American women has an unintended pregnancy each year.

-- 51% of pregnancies among women aged 40 years and older are unintended. Based on these figures, a group of 100 women will have an estimated 142 unintended pregnancies by the age of 45 years.

-- By the time women reached 40-44 years of age, 38% had experienced an unplanned birth.

Some Myths about Birth Control

1. Tubal Ligation is the only option for women who desire permanent birth control.

2. Birth control is 100% effective - no need to worry if I am on the pill or using a diaphragm.

3. I won't get pregnant having sex during my period.

4. Breastfeeding my baby protects me from pregnancy.

5. I am too old to get pregnant: As long as you are having periods you can become pregnant. While it is true that the older you get the less fertile you are, you must consider yourself fertile and able to get pregnant until you have been without periods for at least one full year.

6. I have never gotten pregnant before so I won't now.

7. I have irregular periods so I guess I can't get pregnant.

To reach Dr Krishnan's office, call (510) 498-2943.


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