Question of the Month

Q:  I don't hear anyone talking about hormone replacement and birth control. When one reaches peri-menopausal stages, there is always the risk of an accidental pregnancy in people who think they have passed the age and are not careful. I've never heard of this among acquaintances over 50 but I certainly have heard stories about women in their 40's. Do those HRT's like Orthoprefest function the same way as birth control pills so that ovulation doesn't happen?

A:   You raise an important question. The number of unintended pregnancies goes up for women in their forties because many incorrectly assume that they cannot become pregnant. Hormone replacement preparations such as Orthoprefest, Prempro, Activella and the others do not provide contraception. Once menopausal symptoms are definite and periods have stopped or FSH indicates menopause, pregnancy cannot occur. Before that, during the forties, it may be difficult to tell and so contraception should be used. Oral contraceptives can be used through the early fifties in women who are non-smokers and who have no contraindications.

Determining when contraception is no longer needed is highly individual so discussion with one' s physician is essential.

Hope this is helpful.

Geoffrey Redmond, MD


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