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Maturitas. 1996 Mar;23(2):181-92.

The perimenopause and contraception.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, Assiut University, Egypt.



To review the implications of pregnancy in women in their forties and the contraceptive options open to them.


Medline and popline reviews of the literature.


Women in their forties are still potentially fertile, and pregnancy in this age group is attended with increased maternal mortality, spontaneous abortion, fetal anomalies and perinatal mortality. In developing countries, these risks are compounded by high parity and poor medical care. Contraception for women in this age group has special risks and benefits, both should be balanced to choose between the different options available. Recent epidemiological and clinical pharmacology studies have indicated the safety of extending the use of combined oral contraceptives (COCs) beyond the age of 35 years and up to menopause. The improved picture of COCs has largely resulted from the use of low-dose-formulations, and avoidance of their use in women with risk factors for developing cardiovascular diseases. Besides their high reliability, which is desirable at this age, COCs will prevent the occurrence of climacteric symptoms and menstrual irregularities which are frequently complained of in the premenopausal years. Moreover, the use of COCs has a substantial protective effect against ovarian and endometrial cancers. Women who have reasons for avoiding COCs can use progestogen-only contraceptives like pills, depot injectables and implants. Norplant combines high efficacy and the long-term effect. Both copper-releasing and levonorgestrel-releasing IUDs (LNG-IUD) combine the advantages of high efficacy and long term effect. The reduced fecundity above the age of forty can allow extending the use beyond the accepted term, and up to one or two years beyond the menopause without the need for replacement. The levonorgestrel IUD has the advantage of reducing the amount of menstrual bleeding. The extent of use of barrier methods will depend upon the availability of a back-up by abortion service in case of failure. The condom has the added benefit of protection against STDs. Male or female sterilization is an excellent contraceptive option, provided that this approach is culturally acceptable and available at reasonable cost and low risk.


Increasing the number of contraceptive options available to premenopausal women will improve proper counseling and enhance compliance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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