Guide to Birth Control
What you need to know, whether you plan on having another child or not
At 36, am I too old for hormonal birth control?
No. It's considered safe for women over 35, as long as you don't smoke and aren't at high risk for heart disease. In fact, a growing number of ob-gyns actually recommend hormonal birth control right up until menopause. "Research shows that the Pill protects against ovarian cysts and ovarian, uterine, and colorectal cancers," says Dr. Meckstroth. Women who have been on the Pill for ten years reduce their risk of ovarian and uterine cancer by 80 percent. Other forms of hormonal contraception likely offer similar protection against cancer.
Is it safe to take birth-control pills that reduce the number of periods I get or stop them altogether?
There's no health benefit to a regular monthly period, says Mark DeFrancesco, M.D., chief medical officer at Women's Health Connecticut, so these pills -- including Seasonique, Loestrin 24 Fe, and Yaz -- are just as safe as traditional hormonal birth-control pills (which stop you from ovulating and mimic a monthly period).
However, many women prefer to continue getting a regular period because it reassures them that they're not pregnant.
For some women, though, having fewer, or no, periods is a good option -- especially for those who regularly experience heavy periods, menstrual migraines, or painful cramps. But keep in mind that some of the pills that eliminate or decrease the frequency of periods might cause breakthrough bleeding, an annoying side effect that may or may not go away in time.