Pregnancy Is Possible During Menopause

Health & Medical Blog

Although many women think they can't get pregnant during menopause, there's the chance you can. How long menopause lasts differs from woman to woman, but the process is gradual and can take years to complete. Even if waning symptoms lead you to believe you're through menopause, you still may be able to get pregnant.

The Role Hormones Play

Your monthly menstrual cycles may have stopped, but the hormones responsible for ovulation and pregnancy sometimes spike when you're going through the change. Estrogen and progesterone levels drop as you get older, making it harder to get pregnant. However, your body may continue to produce enough of these hormones at times to conceive.

Hormone levels fluctuate widely during the stage of perimenopause -- the time when the ovaries start to produce less estrogen and release fewer viable eggs. In addition to evaluating your other symptoms, your doctor may periodically order blood tests to help determine if you're entering the change.

Birth Control After Age 40

Fertility declines as you enter menopause, but irregular periods don't mean you won't get pregnant. Doctors say you shouldn't stop using birth control until you go at least 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle. If preventing pregnancy after age 40 is a concern, it's important to consider the birth control options available.

Use of oral contraceptives isn't recommended, especially if you smoke. The American Heart Association points out that after menopause women are at higher risk than men for high blood pressure. Birth control pills increase the risk more. High blood pressure is a condition that increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Other birth control choices for women over 40 include the use of diaphragms, IUDs, cervical caps, spermicides, and condoms. Although these barrier methods may not be as effective as the pill in preventing pregnancy, they do not affect blood pressure.

Risks of Having a Baby Later in Life

Having a baby after age 40 comes with risks for both you and your infant. There is a higher risk of your baby being born with birth defects or genetic disorders such as Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorder. If you're an older mom, your baby may be preterm, stillborn, or have a low birth weight.

During your pregnancy, you are at increased risk of hemorrhaging, developing a blood clot, having high blood pressure, or suffering seizures or stroke. Peripartum cardiomyopathy, although a rare disorder, is another health problem that can occur in women of childbearing age, but most often in women older than age 30.

The condition, which can be life threatening, weakens the heart muscle. Symptoms, including heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, and swollen ankles, usually appear during the last month of pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. The liver may become enlarged and the lungs may fill with fluid. Congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias are complications that can occur with the disorder.

For more information, talk to the experienced staff at a clinic like The Ob-Gyn Group.


25 February 2015

pregnancy, labor and delivery - working with a midwife

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