Falling pregnant after birth control
Many women spend years using some form of birth control trying to avoid pregnancy, but when the time comes and they are ready to fall pregnant, it doesn’t happen as easily as expected. There is no way of predicting how long it will take, and unfortunately, 1 in 6 couples will experience difficulties.
There are a number of factors that may affect your ability to conceive, so being educated about your fertility, and understanding what affects it, is the best way to plan for pregnancy.
How long does it take to fall pregnant after stopping contraception?
Most women will usually begin to ovulate normally and have menstrual periods a month or two after they stop using the pill or most forms of birth control. However, for others it may take longer. In most instances this is just the normal delays in the process of conception. There is a common misconception that there are problems conceiving post contraception, or even possible negative side effects. The truth of the matter is that your body needs a bit of time to adjust and in most cases, pregnancy will happen when your body is ready to conceive.
You may have heard that falling pregnant immediately after birth control could have side effects that lead to a negative impact on the health of your baby, however there is no scientific evidence to support this theory.
How is my fertility affected by different forms of contraception?
Ceasing some forms of contraception may cause a slightly longer delay in returning to your regular ovulation pattern, while others will have little or no impact at all. Often the largest change in fertility that occurs after prolonged use of contraception is the natural change in egg quality over time due to aging, and the time it naturally takes to conceive. It is a good idea to keep this in mind whilst trying to conceive.
Here is a general guide to some of the most common contraceptive methods, and how they can affect a woman’s fertility levels once stopped:
- The Pill: In most instances, your fertility will return to your usual level within two months when your menstrual cycle resumes.
- Hormone-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) e.g. Mirena: After removal you should immediately return to your usual level of fertility.
- Contraception Implant: When the implant is removed with most women returning to their previous menstrual cycle within a month.
- Contraception Injection: It may take between 8 – 12 months to return to your normal cycle and fertility after your last injection, although in some individuals this may be longer. If you may want to become pregnant in the next 12 to 18 months we advise you not to use this method of contraception.
- Vaginal Ring: The vaginal ring provides a relatively low dose of hormones compared to most combined contraceptive pills. When you stop using the vaginal ring your fertility goes back to its normal level very quickly.
Tips to help you fall pregnant naturally
To help you on your journey to parenthood, we encourage anyone who is trying to conceive to follow the Fertility Insights Program. Developed by our leading Fertility Specialists, this program outlines 6 clear steps that any woman trying to fall pregnant should follow. You can start the program at home today.
Part of the Program will help you plan your timing for sexual intercourse. Many women don’t know how important it is to have sex BEFORE you ovulate if you are trying to conceive. You can use our ovulation calculator to find out your most fertile days, and automatically add them to your own electronic calendar. The Fertility Insights Program also outlines some changes that you and your partner may need to make to your diet and lifestyle to improve your fertility levels.
When should I seek expert advice?
While it is possible to become pregnant immediately after the cessation of the birth control, it is unlikely. Not because you’ve been on contraception (in most instances), but because time to conceive is usually several months and up to six - twelve months is not an unreasonable estimate. Your age has a dominant influence on your ability to conceive, and how long it will take.
It is very important that you keep ‘time’ in mind. As a woman gets older, she produces fewer healthy eggs. This decrease in egg production gets faster with each year. That’s why the major cause of fertility problems in women is their age. Once you turn 36, your chance of conceiving naturally is about half of what it was when you were 20. By the time you are 41, this chance falls to just 4% per month.
If you are over 35 and you haven’t fallen pregnant after six months of trying, talk to your GP and ask for a referral to a Queensland Fertility Group fertility specialist. If you are under the age of 35, we would normally recommend that you speak to your GP if you haven't fallen pregnant within a year of trying to conceive.
Our experienced fertility nurses are available to give you free, personalised advice over the phone. If you have any questions or concerns, call 1800 111 483 during business hours for a confidential discussion.