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Mistyeyze 05-19-2006 11:44 AM

Birth Control Pills for Perimenopause
Hi ladies,

In my quest for information before I start taking my bcp's (did I mention I have a lot of health anxiety?) I found a site that really explained what is different between hrt and bcp's.

This is the main thing:

BCPS OR HRT?: Whatís the Difference?

Some of us going through early menopause or premature ovarian failure are put on birth control pills; others on hormone replacement therapy. Both act as hormone replacement; in other words, in both cases, youíre taking them to replace the hormones your body used to make. But there are significant differences between the two.

So, inevitably, questions come up: What are the differences? Is one better than the other? Why am on one and not the other? As youíd expect, there are really no simple answers! (Isnít that always the case....)

That said, though, hereís an attempt at explaining this issue, the pros and cons of each...and the reasons your doctor may have prescribed one of these for you.


Letís start with a look at Birth Control Pills: First, and most importantly, itís important to realize that birth control pills arenít for contraception only! Yes, you might have used them in the past to prevent pregnancy, but if youíre prescribed them due to early menopause, POF, or perimenopause, youíre not taking them for the contraceptive reasons as much as you are taking them to boost your hormone levels.

When Theyíre Usually Prescribed....and Why

Most often, your doctor will suggest birth control pills for you if youíre perimenopausal -- that is, youíre still getting your periods, youíre not testing at post-menopausal levels, and you havenít been diagnosed with POF or early menopause. In this case, itís likely that your doctor has suggested bcps as a way of helping you cope with symptoms. This is becoming a fairly common treatment, because, although youíre getting menopausal symptoms (like hot flashes, night sweats, and so forth), youíre still producing a fair level of hormones on your own. And, unlike typical HRT which supplements hormones in your body, birth control pills literally take over.

They override your own hormonal production -- in effect, signaling your ovaries to take a breather and stop producing estrogen and progesterone -- and supplant it with the hormones in the pills themselves. In other words, you get just what is in the bcp. Youíre not adding hormones on top of what youíre producing on your own, but literally replacing them.

This is a key reason bcps are often prescribed if youíre perimenopausal and going crazy with symptoms: In perimenopause, youíre still producing non-menopausal (that is, higher) levels of estrogen and progesterone on your own, so adding more hormones (as you would if you went on standard HRT) might actually make you feel worse. Your hormone levels are usually fluctuating a great deal in perimenopause, so there could be days when HRT would provide you with too much....and wind up causing symptoms from excess estrogen or progesterone. In addition, since irregular bleeding is often one of the mostly widely experienced symptom of perimenopause, bcps will regulate your bleeding.

All in all, youíll get a set, steady amount of hormones that wonít fluctuate according to your own ovarian production.


deinee 05-19-2006 12:05 PM

Re: Birth Control Pills for Perimenopause
Thank you so much for sharing that info. It does help me understand the difference between HRT and BCP. It would be nice if we didn't need either, but some help at this stage is greatly appreciated. Did you find any info about if you take the pill during peri, does it just delay going into menopause? Will our own bodies have to sometime adjust on their own? I hate to think I am just putting off the whole process until later, but i couldn't take much more of the heavy bleeding. Thanks again for the info. Ann

Mistyeyze 05-19-2006 01:06 PM

Re: Birth Control Pills for Perimenopause
Hi Ann,

Good question about bcp's putting off menopause..... I didn't think to ask my gyne that question... must be the brain fog :rolleyes: because god knows I asked every other question, and I've still been looking for info today. I'll have to check into it. I don't like the thought of putting off the ine****ble, but then again, I have been suffering for a year, and I want some relief.

Here is something I wanted to share. Before I do, please understand that I'm not trying to push anything on anyone, I just want others to learn what I'm learning. I googled my bcp, it's called Yaz (wierd name, I know) and I found out this drug is brand new. It's low dose and has a special combo, but the thing that got my interest is supposidly this bcb also treats severe PMS, and somehow has an antidepressant effect for those that get bad depression around their periods. I forget the name of it, <something>PMS. Well lord knows I've been depressed, lol, and it is hormonal related-- so.... I'll let you all know.

One more thing, it seems the risk for bcp's is not breast cancer, but cardiovascular risk if you smoke. The newer low does pills are supposed to be safer, but there is still that warning for smokers. I'm glad that's one habit I didn't pick up.

deinee 05-19-2006 02:48 PM

Re: Birth Control Pills for Perimenopause
I have been seeing Yaz mentioned on the birth control board. I am on Ortho tri cyclen lo. I quit smoking a number of years ago so hopefully my risk is low. I started my period today about a week early. I think I messed up myself by starting the pill a week late in April. I was going to stop the pill and try it on my own, but I was having alot of ovarian pain so I started but a week late. I have not really had any problems with the pill, a little nausea and headache at first. I shouldn't tell you this, but I think I have gained some weight too. But, I was gainning before I started too. Who knows. How long do you think you will take it? My doctor said 6 to 12 months. Everything is so confusing these days. You never know if you are doing the right thing or not. Thanks again for the info. Ann

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