Contraception and menopause

You cannot know for sure if you have reached the 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. Discuss this with a healthcare professional if you're worried.

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, your bleeds may be irregular or 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 the 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.

The 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. Your GP may recommend that you stop the combined pill at 50 and change to a progestogen-only pill or another method of contraception.

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

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

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

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