"Clinical judgment will be required to balance the risks and benefits when awoman has multiple medical conditions," Allen says. "The availability of safe,effective options suggests that estrogen-containing methods should increasinglybe used with caution in older women who have cardiovascular risk factors."This is particularly true for oral contraceptives, which can also prove less effectivefor women as they grow older. The risks of oral contraceptive use in women over 40 include cardiovascular complications, such as blood clots, and bone fracturerisks.But the benefits can’t be overlooked, either. Women who use oral contraceptivesgenerally enjoy menstrual regularity, regulation of vasomotor symptoms, such ashot flashes and night sweats, and a decrease in the risk of endometrial cancer.The researchers suggest non-hormonal and progestin-only birth control methodsfor women who have been advised to avoid contraceptives containing estrogen. According to the study, the World Health Organization names copper intrauterinedevices (IUDs), progestin implants, and sterilization as the most effective formsof birth control. The ideal for women over 40 is generallylong-acting, reversiblecontraception, such as an IUD.This does not discount the effectiveness of short-term methods, such as oral contraceptives, but these options should beassessed on an individual basis.In addition, while there are women over 40 who are able to conceive withoutcomplications, all women should be aware of the possible consequences. As thereport states, “[t]he risk of spontaneous abortion and chromosomal abnormalitiesincreases markedly after age 40. Older age is also associated with an increasedrisk of obstetric complications, including gestational diabetes, hypertension,placenta previa, cesarean delivery, perinatal death, and maternal death.”
Why Is This Study Important?
With so many birth control options, choosing the most age-appropriate form of contraception can be challenging.Unintended pregnanciesare an issue for women of all ages, so they must be informed about what works and what doesn’t,especially if they’ve trusted the same form of contraception for years.