Getting pregnant after you stop birth control

What's Inside?

Return of fertility after discontinuing certain contraception should not be equated with pregnancy. Pregnancy, or the body’s capability of getting pregnant, depends on a variety of factors, only partially on the type of contraception used. The patient’s age, weight, smoking, intake of any medications, overall health status are other important factors. The myth that it is harder to have a baby after contraceptives have perpetuated because people are unaware of how hard it is to actually have a baby.

In a normal menstrual cycle, your chances of conceiving are around 30%.

Pregnancy after non-hormonal birth control

  • Barrier contraceptives
    Barrier contraceptives include the male and female condom, diaphragm and cervical cap. Spermicides and vaginal sponges also come under this category. The return of fertility after discontinuation of barrier contraceptives is almost immediate since they do not affect ovulation in a female and sperm production in a male in any way.
  • Non barrier, non-hormonal contraceptives:

      1. Non-hormonal IUD : fertility should return within a month.
      2. SERM’s / Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators : Chhaya/ Saheli. Return of fertility is prompt. 60% of women conceive in the first 6 months after stopping the pill.
      3. Breastfeeding : Only 2 out of 100 women get pregnant if they use breastfeeding as a method of contraception in the first 6 months following childbirth. Exclusive breastfeeding implies nursing at least  every 4 hours in the day and 6 hourly at night.

Pregnancy after hormonal birth control

Most women return to their normal level of fertility within a cycle or two. For some, it may take several months before ovulation becomes regular and the woman can become pregnant, especially if her periods were irregular before starting birth control. However, hormonal birth control does not increase the risk of infertility.

Hormonal birth control mainly acts by three mechanisms:

  • Preventing ovulation.
  • Making cervical mucus thicker.
  • De-synchronising and the thinning of the inner lining of the uterus.

When should I see a doctor?

You should consult your healthcare practitioner if:

  • You don’t get your period within 3 months of discontinuing a contraceptive.
  • You experience irregular periods, heavy periods or any other troubling symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping in your belly, vaginal discharge.
  • You are over 35 years and have been trying to conceive for over 6 months.
  • You and your partner have been trying to conceive for over a year.

Is it possible to get pregnant right after discontinuing my birth control without getting periods?

Yes, in some cases after stopping birth control, you may start ovulating and can conceive even before your period.

Is it risky to get pregnant right after stopping birth control?

No, it is not.

Main takeaways:

Return of fertility following barrier methods is immediate.

  • 20% of women conceive within 3 months of discontinuing a hormonal contraceptive.
  • 80% of women conceive within a year of discontinuation of contraceptives.
  • Failure to conceive could be due to multiple reasons. It is important to get evaluated by your healthcare provider on time.