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Perimenopausal Spotting in a Heavy Smoker

Q: I have had a problem for a while with my period. It lasts for 5 days, then lingers around spotting for 3 to 5 days more. What is going on? I went to the doctor and they want to put me on birth control pills to help regulate my period, but I was afraid to take them because I am a heavy smoker. I am 42 years old. Can you help me?

Dr. Donnica:
I can only help you if I can convince you that it's time to stop smoking. Your doctor was right in suggesting that low dose birth control pills would regulate your menstrual irregularities and you were right not to take them if you can't get down to under a half a pack per day of cigarettes.

You are probably in perimenopause, the 2 to 10 year period preceding menopause, during which you can start having spotting, irregular periods and other menopausal symptoms. Low dose birth control pills are an excellent treatment option for women in perimenopause, but potentially serious complications of the Pill increase by 3 to 4 times in women who smoke. 

Ask your doctor to recommend a smoking cessation program to help you overcome this MAJOR health challenge and cardiac risk factor. For specific tips on how to quit smoking, click here.

Created: 9/15/2002  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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