Contraception and menopause

You cannot know for sure if you have reached menopause when you're on the contraceptive pill. This is because hormonal contraception can affect your periods.

Menopause is usually diagnosed:

  • if you're over 50 and have not had a period for more than 12 months
  • if you're under 50 and have not had a period for more than 2 years
  • when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally

These rules do not apply if you're taking hormonal contraception.

In younger women, there are other reasons why your periods might stop.

Talk to your GP if you're worried about your periods.

Bleeding if you're on the pill

You'll have monthly period-type bleeds for as long as you keep taking the combined pill.

If you're taking the progestogen-only pill, you may have irregular periods or they may stop altogether for as long as you keep taking the pill.

The combined pill may also mask or control menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats.

These factors can make it hard to know when you've stopped ovulating and cannot get pregnant anymore.

Test for menopause

There is no test that can tell for certain if you're in menopause and can stop contraception.

A blood test to measure levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) can show if a woman is becoming menopausal. But this is not a useful test in women over 45 as FSH levels go up and down.

An FSH test is not recommended if you're taking the combined pill.

Stopping contraception

You can stop using contraception at the age of 55 as getting pregnant naturally after this is very rare.

Once you turn 40, you shouldn't continue the combined pill if you have a risk factor. Risk factors include being a smoker or having a BMI over 30. Only very low-risk users can continue it between 40 and 50 years.

Your GP may recommend that you stop the combined pill and change to a progestogen-only pill or another type of contraception.

Use a barrier method of contraception like condoms to avoid getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Slaintecare logo
This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 19 May 2022
Next review due: 19 May 2025