Getting Pregnant During
the Menopausal Years
If you are going through menopause you may be thinking that you are about to be free from the burden of children. Maybe your kids are just leaving home and you are thinking about how wonderful it will be to have the house to yourself again. Well, before you redecorate you should probably know that, even during menopause, it is possible to become pregnant. Women around the age of 50 can get pregnant naturally, particularly during perimenopause. It is therefore important for you to know as much as possible about your options during menopause to ensure a safe and healthy reproductive life.
Pregnant? That's Impossible!
During menopause, your periods can be very difficult to chart or predict. One month you may have it, the next month it's gone again. But this doesn't necessarily mean that you are going through menopause. In order to be menopausal you have to have been period free for at least 12 months. If your periods are still showing up every now and then, you are probably still ovulating and thus have a chance of becoming pregnant.
Chances of pregnancy are lower in your menopausal years than during your 20s and 30s. By the time you are 40, your chances of becoming pregnant naturally are reduced by 50%. This percentage continues to decline the older you get. However, you are not completely infertile until your periods have stopped for at least one complete year. In fact, two-thirds of women between the ages of 40 and 44 ovulate regularly during perimenopause.
Risks of Pregnancy During Menopause
A lot of perimenopausal are unaware of the facts surrounding pregnancy during menopause. More than 60% of unintended pregnancies in women over 40 are aborted. More than 50% of women between 45 and 49 are not using contraception. 10% of these women in this age group use natural methods to protect against pregnancy. Natural methods may not be enough to prevent pregnancy during this time. Your periods are too irregular, and symptoms of menopause may distort your cycle. Although your risks are low, don't get caught unaware.
Pregnancy after the age of 35 is associated with a number of risks for both you and your baby. Chances of premature birth, low birth weight and still birth all increase after 35. Your baby also has a greater chance of being born in a breech position or via cesarean section. After 40, dangers to you and your baby increase again. You are at increased risk for developing bone loss or osteoporosis. There is also a greater risk of your baby developing gestational diabetes or chromosome abnormalities. Additionally, chances of spontaneous abortion increase.
Contraception and the Menopausal Woman
If you are going through menopause, you probably didn't think that you were going to need contraception. But the fact is that pregnancy is a real risk during this time. If you don't want to become pregnant, then look into getting some contraception that is appropriate for you and your lifestyle.
The most popular method of contraception among women over 40 is sterilization. Tubal ligation is a simple process in which your doctor cuts, ties, or clamps your fallopian tubes to prevent any eggs from traveling to you uterus. This process must be done in hospital under general anesthetic, but recovery time is only about one day. 20% of menopausal women have partners who have been sterilized. Vasectomies are quickly and safely performed, and involve cutting the vans deferens (the tube that carries sperm) to prevent fertilization.
Oral contraceptives continue to be one of the most popular methods of contraception. They also have the added benefit of reducing symptoms associated with menopause, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness. However, oral contraceptives can put older women at risk for strokes and heart attacks.
Barrier protection, like condoms, sponges, and cervical caps are well suited to women who only need occasional contraception. Barrier methods also provide protection against some sexually transmitted diseases.
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