My best friend’s mom stopped taking the birth control she had been on when we were still in high school. She was over 40 years old by this point, and she had been taking the same type of birth control since my best friend had been born. That’s a long time to be on birth control, but she seemed fine. She even started a new health program, lost a ton of weight, and went back to school to be a teacher. Not everyone her age is quite so lucky however. Contraceptives that use estrogen make women more likely to form blood clots after the age of 40, and some type of birth control, like Depo Provera, can cause a loss of bone density if it’s used for too many years.
A review on an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal also said that the benefits of women over 40 using contraceptives often outweigh the risks. The best choice for women over 40 are copper IUDs, progestin implants, and sterilization.
These methods of contraception however, do not offer the results some women want. Oral contraceptives often alleviate heavy menstrual bleeding and they can also lessen hot flashes in perimenopausal women. However, if women over 40 are just interested in not becoming pregnant, the previously mention forms of contraceptive will work just fine. In addition to these, diaphragms and condoms can also be used. In fact, they may be even more effective than normal because failure rates are lower among older women than they are among younger women.
The risks of both contraception use and pregnancy are also increased when women have any health problems as well. The best course of action is to talk with your doctor before using any type of contraception besides diaphragms or condoms.
In the original article, Dr. Rebecca Allen of the Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, RI, said that "Clinical judgment will be required to balance the risks and benefits when a woman has multiple medical conditions,” and that "the availability of safe, effective options suggests that estrogen-containing methods should increasingly be used with caution in older women who have cardiovascular risk factors."
Other than that, women are free to use birth control after 40 with limited side effects, and in some cases, a lot fewer side effects than younger women experience. Normal check-ups should still be maintained however, to ensure that the chosen method of contraception is working properly and not posing any serious risks or complications.
Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal (2013, March 4). Contraception in women over 40. ScienceDaily.