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Should I stop taking my pills now at age 50? #602/11

 I am 2 weeks from turning 50 years old and I have been on pills for 30 years.  My doctor wants me to stop taking the pill and he thinks I could have already gone through menopause.

I am going overseas on the 12th of June for 2 weeks.  My period ends the day before I leave (the 11th).  If I stop taking my pills after this period ends, will I be safe from bleeding while I am away or could I possibly get a bleed?

You have been on pills for 30 years!  WOW!!!  You have now gained such strong protective effects against ovarian and endometrial cancer!


You have been encouraged to stop pills and your physician thinks that you have already gone through menopause. 


Your last cycle of pills will be leading, you EXPECT to a period that will stop on June 11th.  You are leaving for Europe on June 12th and want to know if you will bleed while you are away.  If you wanted to, you could (and many women do) continue your pills for another several years.  Actually, there is no way of knowing if you are menopausal yet.  Why not at least continue pills throughout your trip to avoid spotting, although spotting would not be expected if you anticipate the last day of your next bleeding will end on June 11th.  The key question is, do you want to stop taking your pills now?  Were you my patient, I would be strongly guided by your answer to this question.


Please do let me know what you decide to do.



Her reply on 6-4: “Good morning Dr. Hatcher!  I am in Australia and I thoroughly enjoy reading on your website!  Thank you for your answer.


I also smoke up to 20 cigarettes per day and my doctor is concerned about the risk factor of smoking and taking the pill at my age.  It would be good to get off them I think, but don’t know if to continue while I am in the USA or wait and stop them when I come home.  So, you think I would be okay while away?”


WHOA!  Definitely DO STOP pills when you get back to Australia! 


I want to strongly encourage you to stop smoking. It is very hard I know.


Here are the thoughts of Dr. Melissa Kottke:


Blunt advice, offered with love and concern is what an excellent doctor, nurse or counselor can provide.

Recently.  Dr. Melissa Kottke told us the words she uses each and every time she sees a woman who smokes. She tells the smoker:

“You’ve got to stop smoking! It is bad for your health. It is bad for your lungs. It is bad for your heart. It is expensive. It makes your hair, breath and clothes smell bad. It is bad for your skin and bad for your bones. Smoking prematurely ages you. Smoking causes Cancer.


Smoking increases your chances of dying. It is also bad for the health of your children. For your health, you should stop smoking. Do you need help doing this?”


Missy Kottke’s words are certainly blunt. The truth about smoking is not pretty. But she delivers these words with such a kind, concerned expression.  She is nonjudgmental. It takes just a few seconds (30 seconds) but WOW!


Repeating these words in a kind, gentle manner could be the nicest thing you could do for a friend or a family member. If you smoke these words could

save your life.





To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of birth control pills, go to our website: www.managingcontraception.com and click on

Choices.  You can also order this wonderful new educational book from our website or by calling 404-875-5001.  Do you have your copy yet?


Key Words:  birth control pills, discontinue, age, menopause, traveling, period, bleed, protection, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, continue pills, spotting, smoker, danger, advantages, disadvantages

Melissa Kottke, MD

Assistant Professor

Director, Jane Fonda Center

Emory University Department of Gyn/Ob

Atlanta, GA

Posted 6-6-2011, Updated 6-13-2011, Updated 6-18-2011

Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPH
Emeritus Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA

The directors and owners of this website and any publications and information concerning health matters offered here advise a person with a particular problem to consult a primary-care clinician or a specialist in obstetrics, gynecology, or urology (depending on the problem or the contraceptive) as well as the product package insert and other references before diagnosing, managing, or treating the problem.
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