Question

Birth Control is Hormones... Why stop taking birth control at menopause? Wouldn't it keep things stable?
I've heard all the stuff about hormone replacement therapy causing cancer etc. but then I started thinking about Birth Control. Long term birth control reduces your risk of all sorts of diseases and cancers... Why can't a woman hitting menopause keep taking birth control to keep the hormones stable?
Posted 3 years ago in Menopause by DialupGenius

Answers

Anonymous
This is a good question, and it's one that has been explored extensively. What they've found is: If you take hormones during the period of time when women normally are fertile and their bodies are, or should be, making high doses of hormones, then that typically does not have any long term negative effects on health. And in fact if you don't have hormones due to some kind of problems during that time (ovary removal or something like that), then your health is negatively affected as compared to women of the same age who have the normal amount of hormones. The hormones do all kinds of good things for your health. So it was assumed that if women took those same hormones after menopause, they'd continue to get those same positive effects and it would be a win-win sitiuation. However, extensive studies have now shown that, for reasons that are not yet entirely well understood, if a woman takes hormone replacement after around the natural age of menopause, that many risk factors go up, and overall lifespan is affected negatively. Now, it's important to keep in mind that these negative effects are not huge. But they're real. So as a result, it's no longer medical practice to recommend that women take hormones after menopause. But on the other hand, since the negative effects aren't huge, many women take them anyway. But they have to understand that taking them might result in them getting breast cancer or ovarian cancer or some other problem. Complicating matters is that there may be a window of time when taking hormone replacement is useful, but if you take it after that time, you end up with more negatives than positives. Like it may cause MORE cardiovascular problem rather than less if you take it after age 60 and after not having taken it for awhile. So it's not a simple issue. There are a lot of pros and cons to weigh.Also keep in mind that when women take birth control pills during their fertile years, the hormones in the birth control aren't IN ADDTION TO what their bodies are already making. The birth control partly shuts down the ovaries so their bodies make less hormones, and then the birth control replaces the hormones their bodies would have been making. So the total amount of hormones in them might be a little more, or a little less, than they'd otherwise have if they took no birth control pills at all. But if they take hormones after menopause, then those hormones are adding something they'd otherwise not have, so that their lifelong exposure to estrogen and progesterone increases for every day they take hormone replacement.


What is Menopause

Menopause is the time when the menstrual period ceases and the ovaries permanently stop releasing eggs. Menopause is considered complete when a woman has been without her period for a full year. Although menopause can occur anytime between ages 40 to 58, the average age is 51 years old.



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