When is it safe to stop using contraception?
Dr Mark Porter advises a reader who, at 52, wants to know if it is safe to stop using contraception now.
In theory it is possible to conceive right up until your last period.
Q: When is it safe to stop using contraception? I am 52 and am pretty sure I am going through the menopause as I have had hot flushes and my last period was in February last year.
A: In theory it is possible to conceive right up until your last period (average age 51 for British women) but in practice most women are technically infertile from their mid-forties on, although surprises can, and do, happen!
In general women can stop contraception either when they reach 55, or earlier if it has been a year since their last period and they are over 50, or two years after their last period if they are under 50 (in younger women doctors might want to confirm an early menopause using blood tests).
However advice also varies depending on what sort of contraception you are using as some (eg Mirena IUS) stop periods so it is hard to tell when a woman is going through the menopause. There is a useful overview on www.patient.co.uk about contraception from 40 to the menopause.
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