• I’m in Perimenopause. What Are My Birth Control Options?

    Being in perimenopause does not mean that you cannot get pregnant. At this stage of your life, it is still necessary to use birth control if you do not wish to have any children. The best way to choose a birth control that is right for you is to make an appointment with a gynecologist for contraceptive counseling. Generally, most forms of hormonal birth control that were appropriate before perimenopause will still work for you, but these each have their pros and cons. Here is a look at some of your options.

    Combination Contraceptives

    Combination birth control pills , vaginal rings, and skin patches include both estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. These birth controls can be extremely effective, but they are not appropriate for everyone. Some women should not use contraceptives that contain estrogen because of the risk of blood clots. Combination estrogen and progestin birth control pills and rings contain less estrogen than patches, so they carry a lower risk of blood clots. Your gynecologist will weigh the risk factors before deciding if this kind of contraceptive is right for you.

    Progestin Contraceptives

    Progestin contraceptives do not contain estrogen, so they are often safer for women who are prone to blood clots. These kinds of contraceptives are available as an IUD, implant, and pill. They also have the added benefit of reducing the risk of endometrium cancer. This kind of birth control, particularly the progestin pill, may be slightly less effective than combination birth control, but it is still considered to be a reliable option.

    Sterilization Procedures

    If you are certain that you do not wish to have any more children, you may wish to consider a tubal ligation or request that your partner undergoes a vasectomy. These procedures alleviate the need for ongoing birth control.

    During contraceptive counseling, your gynecologist at Women’s Healthcare Associates will review all of your options and help you select a birth control that is right for your health and future family planning goals. To make an appointment to discuss birth control in Houston, call (713) 654-8128.

  • Making Sense of Perimenopause

    Menopause doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual transition that usually begins during a woman’s 40s. This transition is known as perimenopause, and it can be a confusing time in a woman’s life, especially when it begins earlier than age 40. If you’re experiencing abnormalities, you should schedule a well-woman exam and disclose your concerns to your gynecologist. He or she can help you learn what to expect, and evaluate what you can do to stay comfortable during this transition.

    Understanding Perimenopause

    During perimenopause, your levels of estrogen fluctuate unevenly. As a result, your menstrual cycles become abnormal. Some menstrual cycles might not involve ovulation, which is the release of an egg. Perimenopause only ends when you’ve officially entered menopause. Your gynecologist will diagnose you as menopausal once you’ve gone for 12 consecutive months without menstruating . The closer you get to menopause, the lower your estrogen levels will drop.

    Considering Your Age

    Most women begin perimenopause at some point during their 40s, but it can begin earlier. Although the transition is natural, some women may be at a higher risk of experiencing perimenopause at an earlier age. These risk factors include:

    • Tobacco use
    • Family history of early menopause
    • Cancer treatment
    • Hysterectomy

    Identifying the Signs of Perimenopause

    The signs of perimenopause can develop gradually, and it isn’t always easy to tell what’s normal and what’s not. Talk to your gynecologist for guidance. He or she will ask you about the following issues:

    • Period regularity
    • Sleep quality
    • Body temperature regulation
    • Mental health
    • Urinary health
    • Sexual function

    Women experiencing perimenopause often report hot flashes, mood swings and irritability, bladder leakage, and frequent urinary infections. And because of the decline in estrogen, perimenopause accelerates the loss of bone mass, placing women at risk of osteoporosis.

    Promoting Wellness During Perimenopause

    If your symptoms are mild, you might not require any special care at all. However, you may need a bone scan to check for osteoporosis and a blood test to check cholesterol levels. If your symptoms are bothersome, your gynecologist might recommend hormone replacement therapy, vaginal estrogen, or antidepressants.

    Women come to Women’s Healthcare Associates because of our warm, welcoming staff members, commitment to patient education, and exceptional standards of patient care. Let our gynecology specialists guide you through every stage of life. Call (713) 654-8128, and request a visit if you’re experiencing menopause-related problems and live in Houston.