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Is It Menopause or Are You Pregnant?

by Holly Osterman on November 4, 2012

How would you feel if you started to experience menopause symptoms, then discovered you were actually pregnant? Stunned, scared, elated or all of the above? An article in the Daily UK tells the stories of several women who were given quite a shock after learning they were pregnant.  After a few missed periods, the women assumed they were entering menopause. How wrong they were.

Let’s face it. Either pregnancy or menopause can be an emotional, hormonal roller-coaster, but both will impact women’s lives on completely different levels. And while all women know that menopause is inevitable, many just don’t realize how possible it is to become pregnant if they don’t take precautions.

What Are the Chances?

Pregnancy is a growing trend for women in their forties. In fact, a government report released in June showed that pregnancy rates for women between 40 and 44 years old skyrocketed by 65% since 1990. Researchers speculate that the increase may be caused by women delaying marriage and motherhood until later in life. Or it’s entirely possible that women believe they’re less fertile and less likely to become pregnant as they approach mid-life.

According to Epigee Health, your odds of becoming pregnant certainly drop the older you get. As women enter their forties, the possibility of pregnancy drops by 50 percent and obviously declines in later years. Still, a forty year-old woman has a 5 percent chance of becoming pregnant every month. But keep in mind, until your periods have stopped for one full year, you’re not completely infertile.

Know the Common Symptoms

Menopause symptoms can be misleading. It’s easy to assume that when you’re forty years old and miss a period, you’re in the early stages of menopause. Seems logical. Pregnancy may not have been your first thought, but—if you’ve been sexually active—you certainly need to be open to the possibility. And missed periods can also indicate other health issues, as well.

Menopause and pregnancy also share other symptoms. It’s not unusual to experience mood swings, feel extremely fatigued, or suffer through headaches and migraines when menopause kicks in. But our hormones are unpredictable and Mother Nature can sometimes have a twisted sense of humor.

So What Can You Do?

Don’t leave anything to chance. Many women in menopause or perimenopause don’t feel the need to use contraception, but it’s entirely possible to become pregnant well into your forties. And if you’re currently experiencing symptoms of either, a simple home pregnancy test can be reliable and is usually accurate. Finally, and most importantly, see your doctor. Solid medical advice and open communication are vital when facing the challenges of menopause or managing the risks of pregnancy.

You may not be sure when it’s going to start or how long the journey will last, but menopause is going to happen. Count on it. But life is full of surprises and a pregnancy can be unexpected. Whichever it is, you’re going to need plenty of support. Join us in our menopause forum and share your story.

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