Menopause: could I still get pregnant?

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Indy Lifestyle Online

How long after the cessation of a women's menstrual cycle is it possible to have unprotected sex without the fear of pregnancy?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Menopause is defined as the time when menstrual periods cease. But the end of periods does not always coincide with the end of hormonal activity within the ovaries. Studies have shown that some women have hormonal levels in the six months after menopause that are indistinguishable from the levels before their last period. This means that the ovaries may still be capable of releasing an egg, which could result in pregnancy. Most women experience the menopause between 47 and 53. But for some women the age of menopause can be much earlier or a few years later. The usual advice is that a woman should wait one year after her last menstrual period before she stops using contraception. If the last period is under the age of 50, she should use contraception for a further two years. Fertility falls off from the late thirties, but there are plenty of stories of women in their late forties who go to see their doctor about hormone replacement therapy because their periods have stopped, only to find that they are pregnant.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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