Do Birth Control Pills Delay Menopause? Expert’s Opinion

Last updated 02.10.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 8 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Before discussing the role of birth control pills in delaying menopause, let’s check out some essential pieces of information. Did you know that women lessened their usage of birth control pills as they advanced in age? Around 16.6% of women belonging to the age group between 15 and 19 used the pills. Contrastingly, 19.5% of pill users were 20-29 years old, 11% were aged 30-39, and only 5.1% of women were 40-49 years old. 

Now, getting to the topic, in the first place, there isn’t any way to delay menopause. By stayimg fit, and healthy, you can prevent the onset of premature or early menopause but cannot delay it. Of late, I have heard many women saying that those on birth control pills may have delayed menopause. I would completely deny this by saying that it isn’t true. Birth control pills won’t let you know that you are in menopause, which is happening at the backend, though. 

I heard someone at the doctor’s office the other day saying that she was 52 and didn’t have any symptoms of menopause till then. When she mentioned she was on birth control pills, her healthcare provider asked her to stop it for a while. The moment she did that, her menses stopped, and she went into menopause. 

Have any of you faced a similar situation? Are you keen to know the effect birth control pills would have on menopause? Then, do give my article a read. Besides answering the main question of whether birth control pills delay menopause, I would also touch on topics like the ways to know if you are transitioning into menopause when on birth control pills.

The Role of Birth Control Pills – Understanding the Basics

The Role of Birth Control Pills - Understanding the Basics

It’s not unknown that the best, simplest, and most convenient way to avoid a pregnancy is by taking birth control pills. However, that’s not the only functionality of these pills. I was amazed to know the umpteen functions these pills have. So will you. Let’s take a look at them. Birth control pills:

  • Help to control the menstrual cycle
  • Minimizes the risk of anemia
  • Lessens menstrual migraines, and menstrual cramps
  • Minimizes hot flashes (when transitioning from perimenopause to menopause)
  • Lessens the risk of colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer
  • Helps in treating uterine fibroids
  • Helps to manage acne and unwanted hair growth

So that was about the birth control pills. Now, let’s look at the role of birth control pills in delaying menopause. Or, rather, is there any possibility of the same? Let’s check it out.

Does Birth Control Pills Delay Menopause? How?

As I mentioned right in the beginning, birth control pills do not delay menopause. However, when on these pills, it may be difficult for you to understand if you have reached menopause or not. This is because birth control pills can conceal or mask most of the menopausal symptoms.

As mentioned above, birth control pills help in regularizing your periods. They are also beneficial in lessening the incidences and frequency of hot flashes.

So, you may be nearing menopause. But suppose you are on birth control pills to avoid unwanted pregnancy. In that case, you may not experience an increased incidence of hot flashes. Your period also won’t be irregular, like how it usually is in the menopause transition phase. Moreover, birth control pills also work towards regularizing the flow. So, even in perimenopause, you will have regular periods. You are transitioning but you don’t be aware of it.

Moreover, when transitioning into menopause, your bone health and skin may also be impacted due to the hormonal imbalances. The birth control pills, particularly the ones containing estrogen also help to revert this to a greater extent. So, even if you are in perimenopause, you won’t be able to feel the bone and skin problems so intensely.

Of the different contraceptive pills available, one is the combination pill. It has both estrogens and progesterones (in their artificial versions). Another type is the POP (Progesterone-only pill), which only contains synthetic progesterone.

In menopause, the two main reproductive hormones undergo a massive decline. They are responsible for the majority of the symptoms women encounter. Their numbers start depleting in the perimenopause stage. In the last two years of perimenopause, the levels of these hormones are exceptionally low.

Now, if you are on the combination pill, the effects are even more because it has the artificial forms of both hormones. You will bleed each month just like you do in your periods. The combination pill could also have side effects like alteration in appetite, low sex drive, and mood swings.

In the case of the progesterone-only pill, the effect may be less. Your periods could be irregular or stop until you are on the tablet. You could even experience spotting between your cycles.

Women above 50 should refrain from using the combined pill, which could lead to health complications. At the same time, the progesterone-only pill may be used up to 55 years of age.

After that, your chances of getting pregnant are almost nil due to low fertility levels. Yet, once you are off the pills, it is always safe to consult the doctor to confirm menopause.

How to Tell if You Are in Perimenopause or Menopause When on Pills?

As mentioned, the time frame for menopause is 45-55 years. Whereas for perimenopause, it is 40-44 years. If you fall under any of these age groups, then the best way to see if you are in the transition phase or have hit menopause is to stop the pills. Once you do that, then the natural cycle of the body will resume. However, things won’t happen readily. Your body will take a while to return to its previous form.

Suppose you were on the combined pill, and your menses eventually start getting irregular or stop once you cease taking the pill. In that case, that means perimenopause or menopause has set in.

The same goes for the progesterone-only pill. Suppose irregular periods continue even when you are off the pill. Then, it would be best to conclude that you are transitioning into menopause. If your periods stop right after you discontinue the pills, menopause has begun. The false menses were because of the effect of the drugs.

Once the effect of the pills starts going away from your system, you will begin to experience other menopausal symptoms as well. Some of these include:

FAQs

What are the side effects of birth control pills?

For those who have diabetes, heart problems, blood clots, or high blood pressure, taking blood control pills might aggravate their condition. Common side effects include bloating, nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, high blood pressure, etc. My sister would often have headaches whenever she was on the pills.

Why should women who smoke not take birth control pills?

Birth control pills aren’t suited for females who smoke and are above 35 years of age. Tobacco products have nicotine, which produces additional stress on the blood vessels when it reacts with birth control pills.

What are the different options for birth control?

Women may opt for birth control pills. There are other choices as well. These include skin patches, hormonal injections, vaginal rings, and IUDs. There are barrier methods, like sponges, condoms, cervical caps, and diaphragms, that block the sperm from reaching the egg. However, barrier methods do not prevent pregnancy as effectively as other birth control methods do.

Conclusion

Birth control pills do not just help you avoid pregnancy, but they also have various health benefits. However, suppose you have reached the perimenopause and menopause stages and still show no symptoms. In that case, you must consider stopping the pills for a while.

But, when you do that, you can put yourself at risk of an unwanted pregnancy, especially if your periods haven’t yet stopped. So, talk to your doctor, who may advise you on alternatives for birth control pills.

References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397
  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/menopause#:~:text=This%20means%20that%20the%20ovaries,55%20years%20for%20women%20worldwide
  3. https://jech.bmj.com/content/72/8/733
  4. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/3977-b
  5. irth-control-the-pill
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/how-to-delay-menopause#delaying

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.