Dr. Sharon Malone: Low-Dose Birth Control

3 minute read

By: Sharon D. Malone, MD|Last updated: June 1, 2022

As women enter the menopausal transition (known as perimenopause), symptoms such as hot flashes, mood changes and sleep disturbances can occur, even if you’re still getting your period. For women who are still menstruating, oral contraceptives are quite effective at relieving symptoms and regulating those crazy, unpredictable periods that come with perimenopause. 

Regardless of whether or not you‘re sexually active, have a same sex partner, have undergone permanent sterilization or use a nonhormonal IUD, the use of oral contraceptives until the menopausal transition is complete has been shown to help with your symptoms, reduce the risk of ovarian, endometrial and colon cancer, and control those unruly periods. And, if you do still need contraception, this takes care of that, too.

Choices, Choices…

Finding the best fit for you can depend on your symptoms, your menstruation situation, and your stage of menopause. If it has been less than a year since your last menstrual period, and you are having menopausal symptoms, menopausal hormone therapy may not be the right chocie for you. That’s where low-dose birth control comes in.

Okay, so, what is the difference between oral contraceptives and MHT?

Oral contraceptives and MHT contain the same class of hormones–estrogen and progestin. But, they differ slightly in terms of the type of hormone and the dose in each. Perimenopausal women (still getting periods) need slightly higher doses of estrogen in oral contraceptives for cycle control and contraception. After menopause is complete, symptoms can be controlled with the lower doses in MHT. 

Oral contraceptives are only temporary. Once you graduate to menopause, you will be switched to lower dose menopause hormone therapy. 

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