Pregnancy and the menopause


Eileen Durward
Menopause Advisor
@EileenDurward
Ask Eileen


27 March 2015

Pregnancy and the menopause

Many women still enjoy a healthy sex life during the menopause but often get worried as to whether they can still get pregnant or not. I do get a lot of emails in relation to this and there is a lot of confusion about pregnancy and the menopause so hopefully I can shed a little light on the subject.

It is important to have a rough idea of what is happening as you approach the menopause and what your hormones are actually doing, so I will try and break it down a little.

The peri-menopause

This is when your hormonal balance will start to subtly change. During the peri-menopause you will still get periods but you may find that you start to miss some or they get further and further apart (although for some women they will start to get closer together). Most women will still be ovulating at this stage and it can get very difficult to guess when your next period may arrive, so vigilant contraception is necessary if you don’t want to get pregnant.

The menopause

This is the point where your periods stop for good. You are usually considered to be through the menopause after two years without a period – that is the point at which you know you can no longer get pregnant. The problem lies with the fact that you won’t know you are through the menopause until you have actually been through it and counted the 2 clear years!

Could I be pregnant?

This is the confusing bit.

  • Usual signs that you are pregnant are: missing periods, nausea, weight gain, breast tenderness/enlargement and emotional outbursts.
  • Common menopause symptoms are often: missing periods, nausea, weight gain, breast tenderness/enlargement and emotional outbursts!

So how on earth do you figure this one out?

What if I think I am pregnant?

Best thing to do is to take a pregnancy test. You can now get kits for £1 in most of the big supermarkets and this is the best way to put your mind at rest. If you are really worried, then please see your doctor.

What should I do if I don't want to get pregnant?

In the peri-menopause

Pregnancy is still a big possibility and a missing period can often panic you into thinking you may just be pregnant! Taking precautions at this stage, if you don’t want to get pregnant, is really important. If you have been using the rhythm method then it may become very tricky indeed, and you may want to consider other options at this point to avoid extra stress.

Once your periods seem to have stopped

Even if you have missed periods for months and months you could still get pregnant. Precautions will still be necessary and you would need to keep using them until the 2 years is up. If you are one of those unlucky women who go for a year or more without a period then get a proper one back you have to start counting all over again – sorry!

Although the oldest recorded natural conception in the UK was at 59, in most cases, natural conception over 50 is less likely. However, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because you have had several months without a period: precautions are still necessary!

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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