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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : I am 51. I have had not had a period in 9 months. I used to take a birth control pill. I want to avoid any risk of pregnancy. Do I need to go back on the pill?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Joan Marie Bengtson, M.D., is assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproduction at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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May 22, 2014
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There is no risk of pregnancy after a woman is in menopause.  But menopause is more of a process than an isolated event. So that makes it hard to reassure a woman when contraception is no longer necessary.

Experts define menopause as 12 months with no periods in a healthy woman over the age of 45.  By this definition, you should continue to use contraception for a few more months to avoid any risk of pregnancy. 

It is safe for healthy nonsmokers to use oral contraceptive pills up until menopause. On the other hand, the chance of becoming pregnant at age 51 is extremely low. So you should consider other birth control options. 

Condoms have a higher failure rate than the pill. And many find them inconvenient.  But for a couple in which the female partner is so close to menopause, they are an excellent choice for short-term contraception. 

 

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