You didn’t think about pregnancy after crossing 40 if your periods have been random. Then surprise, surprise! You weren’t quite “feeling yourself.” You were tired all the time, your breasts were becoming increasingly sore, etc.
You didn’t think anything of it. Until a little voice inside prompted you to take a pregnancy test. “I’m pregnant! I’m a 45-year-old mother of 3, and I’m pregnant!
How did this happen to me? I thought I was perimenopausal. I thought I couldn’t get pregnant in perimenopause.”
It’s the transition to menopause when a woman’s ovarian activity starts to wax and wane. This translates into periods doing any number of things such as skipping months at a time, coming multiple times a month, spotting in between cycles. Add hot flashes, night sweats, and occasional sleepless nights on top of that. Sounds fun, right?
Your periods have probably been very irregular for the past several years or so. By irregular, I mean you can sometimes go months at a time without getting one.
This leaves me or any OBGYN with many questions we would have for you. How far along are you? Is this a pregnancy that you plan to move forward with?
You most certainly can get pregnant during perimenopause
Contrary to popular belief, you most certainly can get pregnant during perimenopause. Until you’ve been an entire year without a period, which, by the way, is the definition of menopause, you can still get pregnant. For the record, peri-menopause, on average, lasts 5 years.
Lots of women are hesitant to be on any sort of contraception after the age of 35 for a number of reasons. They don’t think they need it. Feel as if it isn’t safe. Don’t want to be bothered having to remember to take something daily. Aren’t aware of the options. Don’t think they can get pregnant.
It can happen to you
At least 2 to 3 times a year I see a woman in your exact predicament. For those of you reading this, how do you prevent this from happening to you? Reading this article is a start. Speaking with your physician about contraceptive options is a viable next step.
There are numerous options available to women in the perimenopausal stage of their life.
Protection against pregnancy
As long as you don’t have any medical contraindications (your OBGYN will determine this), you to can safely take many if not the same contraceptive options as your less than 35-year-old sisters.
In many cases, options such as a low dose oral contraceptive pill, a hormone-containing intrauterine device, etc., will not only provide you with protection against pregnancy but will also help to temper some of the symptoms noted above that may or may not present during perimenopause.
Not to fear. You definitely aren’t the first, nor will you be the last, peri-menopausal woman who ends up pregnant because she didn’t think it could happen to her.