If you have recently stopped (or are getting ready to stop) birth control in order to get pregnant, you may have several questions. In this guide, we will cover the most frequently asked questions when stopping birth control to get pregnant, the recommended steps to take to prepare your body for pregnancy, and how the different types of birth control impact fertility.
Recommended Steps to Take when Ready to Stop Birth Control:
Step One: Stopping Birth Control
- An IUD or Implant must be removed by your doctor
- If you used combination pills, patches or a ring, it is recommended that you finish your current medication cycle, but that is not essential
- If you used the mini-pill, you can stop them at any time
- If you had a shot you must wait out the effectiveness of the medication
Step Two: Prepare your Body
- As soon as stop most versions of birth control, you are fertile (more detailed information for each type can be found below)
- Experts recommend that you wait to have a cycle before starting to try, but this is not essential
- Eat a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruit (see Fertility Diet for food recommendations)
- Take Prenatal vitamins even before you are pregnant
- Exercise regularly (See exercising for when trying to get pregnant)
Step Three: Trying to Conceive
- Chart your cycles either using an app such as Natural Cycles or use a calendar
- Learn about your body and when you are fertile (use a temperature monitor, learn about your cervical fluid and/or use lutenizing hormone sticks).
- Be sure to have intercourse during your fertile window
Step Four: If not Getting Pregnant
- Make sure you are ovulating
- Make sure your partner's sperm is viable
- Make sure you are timing your fertile window based on your own biological cues
- Talk to your doctor anytime you have questions or concerns
- Unless there is reason to believe otherwise (ie: history of sexually transmitted disease(s) or irregular periods) it is advised only to seek fertility help after a year of trying if you are 35 or under or 6 months of trying if you are over the age of 35.
Effects of Different Types of Birth Control on Fertility
Combined Birth Control Pills
If you used the combined hormonal birth control pill, it should only take a couple of days to leave your system and you can get pregnant right away. The pill stops working quickly if not taken, which is why women get pregnant if they forget to take their pill for only a couple of days.
The pill keeps you from getting pregnant by preventing ovulation. As soon as the hormones leave your body, you will start to produce follicles again and start ovulating. How long it takes to ovulate again really depends on the individual. Some women ovulate right away while others take several months.
If you are not ovulating after two to three months after stopping the pill, however, talk to your doctor. You can use temperature methods or LH sticks to learn more about whether you are ovulating or not.
Many women take birth control not only to avoid pregnancy but also to regulate their period. If you had an irregular period or if you know that you had ovulation issues before being on the pill, those issues may still be present.
The Mini-Pill method:
Mini-pills affect women differently than the combination pills. Mini-pills only contain a low dose synthetic progesterone and its effects actually don’t last much longer than 24-hours. This is why it’s important to take them the same time every day when trying to avoid getting pregnant.
You are pretty much fertile the day after you stop taking the mini-pill. It is mainly recommended to wait a cycle before getting pregnant in order to properly date your pregnancy, but there is no harm to the baby or your pregnancy if you get pregnant the day you stopped.
Skin Patches and Rings:
The patch and rings are similar to combination hormone pills. With the patch, it has been reported that fertility can return right away or take a few months.
With the ring, temporary infertility has been reported, but this should not last longer than 2-3 months after removing the ring.
Implants & Shots:
With the implant, you can get pregnant as soon as your doctor removes it. There is no harm to your baby or your pregnancy if you get pregnant right away.
While the Noristerat shot lasts 8 weeks, you most likely will be fertile again for a couple of months.
Depo Provera may take 3 to 18 months after your last shot to get pregnant. While some women get pregnant only after 4 months, the average time is 9 months. It has been noted to take up to two years to be fertile again.
You may always wish to wait longer to try to conceive since Depo Provera has been noted to potentially cause birth defects and pre-term labor. This has not been backed up, however, by recent studies.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) Methods:
For whichever type of IUD you got, whether the copper or hormonal IUD, you can typically get pregnant your first cycle after it’s removed.
What if you get pregnant right after stopping the Pill? Does it harm the baby?
Don’t worry! It does not increase any risk of having a miscarriage or hurt the baby. Typically, doctors recommend waiting a couple of cycles so that they can give you a more accurate due date. If you don’t know when you conceived, however, a health professional can estimate your due date during your first sonogram.
I’m not getting pregnant, could it be due to the hormones?
There are a lot of factors that contribute to the length of time to conceive. The two biggest reasons are age and having intercourse during your fertile window. Click here to learn how to find your fertile window.
The older you are, the longer it will take to conceive. Don’t worry if you have only been trying for a couple of months. If you have been trying for 6-12 months, it is completely normal that you are not pregnant yet.
You can always talk to your doctor at any point, but it is recommended that if you are under 35 that you talk to your doctor after 12 months of trying and after 6 months of trying if you are over 35 years of age. It's good to seek fertility advice at this point to make certain nothing is wrong.
Don’t forget to have your partner’s sperm checked as well. Infertility is not more common in women- it can equally be you or your partner or combined infertility.
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