Are the Symptoms of Menopause Different While on Birth Control Pills?

Are the Symptoms of Menopause Different While on Birth Control Pills?

Are the Symptoms of Menopause Different While on Birth Control Pills?

As you age, your body gradually slows its production of oestrogen. Your periods will also become irregular. When this happens, it’s known as perimenopause.


After you’ve gone a full year without having a menstrual period, you’ve reached menopause. Symptoms like hot flashes and sleep disturbances are common during this time.


But if you’re taking birth control pills, you might not associate these symptoms with menopause. Hormonal birth control — such as the pill — often causes symptoms like these.


How birth control masks menopause symptoms:

Birth control pills are a form of hormonal contraception. Combination pills contain synthetic forms of oestrogen and progesterone, two naturally occurring hormones. Minipills contain only progestin, which is the synthetic version of progesterone.


In addition to preventing pregnancy, birth control pills helps regulate your body’s hormone levels. As you approach menopause, your body’s natural oestrogen levels will start to decrease — but the pill’s synthetic hormones prevent your body from recognizing this decline.

You’ll also continue to experience a monthly bleed, though this will depend on the type of pill you’re taking. For example, women who take combination birth control pills will continue to have a week of period-type bleeding each month. Women who take the minipill may experience more irregular bleeding.


Birth control pills also have side effects that are similar to menopause symptoms. These include:

·         spotting between periods

·         hot flashes

·         mood swings

·         changes in appetite


Although pregnancy is less likely during the perimenopause and menopause, it is still important to use contraception. This is because it is still possible to ovulate (produce an egg) when you are having periods, even when they are irregular. Effective contraception is still required to prevent an unplanned pregnancy until your menopause.


Contraception is especially important as pregnancy and childbirth after the age of 40 years are associated with a greater risk of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes than in women under the age of 40 years.


What is the best type of contraception for perimenopausal and menopausal women?

There are various different types of contraception available. The risks of the combined oral contraceptive pill increases with age. However, you should not take it if you are aged over 35 years and a smoker, or are aged over 40 years and have cardiovascular disease (for example, angina), or a history of a stroke or migraine.


Some women over 40 take an oral contraceptive pill with a lower amount of oestrogen in it. This may actually improve any menopausal symptoms that you may have. This should be stopped when you are 50 years old and an alternative, safer method of contraception (if needed) should be used.

The progesterone only pill has fewer risks associated with it and this can be taken when you are older. Alternatives include the contraceptive injection, implant and the coil. The progestogen-only implant and the progesterone only pill are not associated with increased risks of clot, stroke or heart attacks.


There are different types of coils. The intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) is made from either plastic or copper and is hormone free. The other type of coil is the intrauterine system (IUS) which is a plastic device that contains a progestogen hormone. It is put into the uterus in a similar way to an IUCD. The progestogen is released at a slow but constant rate. It works by making the lining of your uterus thinner so it is less likely to accept a fertilised egg. This type of coil (the Mirena® coil is one type) can be also used as the progestogen part of HRT and lasts for five years. If the Mirena® IUS is used only for contraception, then it can be used until the age of 55 if it has been inserted when you are aged 45 or over (provided it is not being used as the progestogen component of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)).



If you would like to explore non-hormonal contraceptive options safe to use during menopause, click here to get in touch with us and find out more today!