How long will I take to conceive after stopping birth control?

Now that you’re ready to expand your family, it’s only natural to wonder how long before you’ll become fertile again.

You are ready to ditch your birth control as you want to try for a baby. Yet, one concern women have is that the longer they are on birth control, the harder it is to fall pregnant.

So, many doctors are asked this question ― how long will it take for a woman to conceive after she stops taking contraceptives?

Don’t worry, doctors assure, contraceptives have no impact on fertility. However, when full fertility returns after stopping birth control varies for each person. Actually, it depends mainly on the type of contraceptive method used, rather than how long you’ve been using it.

While it is safe to try and conceive straight off the pill, some doctors may advise waiting for your body to return to its natural menstrual cycle , so you have a clearer idea when your ovulating date is.

Barrier methods

These include:

1) Condoms ― Prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm from entering the vagina.
2) Diaphragm ― A shallow, dome-shaped device placed over the cervix.
Pregnancy chances: Once you stop using these, you can get pregnant as early as the next time you have sex.

Hormonal methods

These include:

1) Contraceptive pills
Birth control pills are the most common form of hormonal contraception. Taken daily, the pills will deliver hormones to prevent an egg from being fertilised. Once you decide to go off the pill, you’re advised to finish your pack first instead of stopping in the middle of the month. Doing so can alter your cycle and cause you to bleed even though you are not menstruating yet. While it is safe to try and conceive straight off the pill, some doctors may advise waiting for your body to return to its natural menstrual cycle , so you have a clearer idea when your ovulating date is. On average, it takes one to three months before ovulation resumes, although it can sometimes take longer. If your period still hasn’t returned after three months, you might want see a doctor for a check-up.
Pregnancy chances: You can get pregnant right away after stopping a regular-dose or low-dose hormonal birth control pill. Studies have shown that about half of the women on the pill fall pregnant within the first three months of stopping, with the majority succeeding within 12 months.

2) Contraceptive patch
The contraceptive patch contains both oestrogen and progestin hormones and needs to be worn for three consecutive weeks, usually on the lower abdomen or buttocks, followed by a one-week break to enable the woman to menstruate.
Pregnancy chances: You are likely to get your period within a few days once you take off the patch, which means fertility returns fairly soon and at most, several weeks later.
Conceiving-How-long-will-I-take-to-conceive-after-stopping-birth-control-2

3) Contraceptive injections
The Depo-Provera jab is another type of hormonal contraception. You’ll need an injection in the arm or buttocks every three months ― it remains effective against pregnancy for up to 12 weeks.
Pregnancy chances: Because the hormone is deposited in the muscle, you’ll need to wait a while for it to leave your system. After your last shot, it may take as little as three months or up to 18 months for you to get pregnant. Hence, doctors advise stopping Depo-Provera at least nine months before trying to conceive.

Your age, state of health and lifestyle could all affect your fertility.

4) Contraceptive implant
A tiny rod about 4cm long, the birth control implant is inserted under the skin of your upper arm. It releases the hormone progestin to stop you from getting pregnant. You only need to replace it after about three years. If you decide you would like to have a baby or stop using the implant, your doctor will be able to it take it out any time.
Pregnancy chances: Your natural fertility will return to normal quite quickly after it is removed.

5) Intrauterine system (IUS)
The IUS is a T-shaped plastic device that a doctor measures and puts into the uterus ― it releases the hormone progestogen to prevent pregnancy. The IUS can lasts up to five years before a replacement is needed.
Pregnancy chances: As soon as you have the IUS removed, it is safe to get pregnant. But just like the injection, the hormones may take a while to leave the body, so allow some time for ovulation to occur.

Other methods

These include:
Although similar, the IUS should not be confused with the intra-uterine device (IUD). Commonly known as the “coil”, it is a small device made of plastic or copper and can stay in the uterus from five to 10 years.
Pregnancy chances: It is possible to remove the IUD any time ― your fertility will return to normal quickly.

If several months have passed and you still experience difficulty conceiving, remember that it may not always be the fault of the contraceptive you used. Your age, state of health and lifestyle could all affect your fertility.

One suggestion is to prep your body way in advance, so as to boost its chances of conception. This will include going off birth control early, starting on a prenatal vitamin supplement, embarking on an exercise programme, eating healthily and abstaining from alcohol and smoking.

Do remember that whichever birth control method you were using, you could get pregnant the moment you go off it. So, get set to be surprised.

Photos: iStock

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