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How do you know if you're in perimenopause when you're on birth control?

By November 18, 2008 - 9:51am
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I'm on birth control and am in my mid 40s. I have had some of the mood swings associated with perimenopause, and occasional insomnia, but I'm not

sure whether to attribute them to perimenopause or not. How do you know if you're in perimenopause when you're on birth control?

It seems like the first, primary symptom of perimenopause is one of erratic periods, but I won't have that symptom as long as I'm on birth control due to the hormones in the medicine -- my periods are still regular. Yet it also seems that this is a time of life when I want to be listening to my body and knowing what stage I'm in.

Anyone have any experience with this?

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Wow, now that I see the list, I can see that maybe I have more symptoms than I thought. It's easy to attribute them to other things as well, though, like breast tenderness (I often have this during my cycle), fatigue (who isn't tired these days? LOL), mood swings (with some decrease in libido, but I attributed that to fatigue) and difficulty sleeping. No wonder it's hard to know exactly when perimenopause starts; a lot of what you describe can happen with a normal cycle as well.

I will have to work on being more alert to those symptoms and I'll ask my doctor about it next time. In the past I've been a little shy about it simply because it felt like my doctor would be the one to bring it up, but I know they're busy and can't always tell what's going on with a person just by an annual or semi-annual appointment.

Thank you!

November 19, 2008 - 8:14am

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians:

"...your doctor can measure/test for a hormone called FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) to see if you're in menopause." (I'm not sure if the test can tell you if you are in perimenopause or not; probably depends on the hormone levels and if you have a previous baseline measure??).

The AAFP also says, "you may want to talk with your doctor to see if very-low-dose birth control pills might be a good idea for you during your perimenopasual years, but this decision is typically made around the age of 49 to 52."

Does that help?

November 18, 2008 - 1:44pm

What a great question...I'm not exactly sure! You're right, that BCP regulate your hormones, so you may not know if you still are having periods.

Here is some information that may answer part of the puzzle, and hopefully someone can fill in the rest for us:

We know that:
- Perimenopause occurs in women in their 40s (typically), and is a result from ovaries gradually producing less estrogen. Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs.

- Other signs/symptoms of perimenopause include:
* Hot flashes
* Breast tenderness
* Worsening of premenstrual syndrome
* Decreased libido (sex drive)
* Fatigue
* Irregular periods
* Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
* Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
* Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)
* Mood swings
* Difficulty sleeping

Have you experienced any of these symptoms above?

November 18, 2008 - 1:38pm
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