June 20, 2021 | By: Steph Kagan, Nurse Practitioner
The use of reversible contraception has significantly increased over the last few decades for a variety of reasons, including ease of access, reduction in costs, patient education and so on. That being said, many women still have confusion and fears about their fertility once discontinuing their birth control.
What Are the Types of Contraceptives?
There are a variety of options available when it comes to short and long-term contraceptives.
Choosing one of these options is personal and comes from a partnered decision with your provider. (Learn more about hormonal IUDs and trying to conceive, check out our article here.)
How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant After Birth Control?
A recent meta-analysis of 14,884 women who have recently discontinued birth control with the goal of conception was reviewed at length. Of these women about 11,600 were on oral contraceptives, 2,300 with IUDs, 700 with implants and 250 with injections. The studies aimed to find what the rate of pregnancy was after one year of discontinuation of the patient’s birth control.
Pregnancy Rate Within 12 Months After Discontinuation
- Oral Contraceptives: 87%
- IUD: 85%
- Implants/Injections: 74%
- Barrier Method: 84-92% (varying research)
Overall, researchers have found that the pregnancy rate after stopping “birth control” in the first year is about 83%, and the length of time a patient was on birth control (of any method) did not reduce this rate. The higher rate in pregnancy rates after removal of using barrier or pericoital methods is likely linked to the fact that hormones can take anywhere from 1-3 months to clear from the body. Those who were not using any hormonal birth control did not need to use up to 3 of their 12 months waiting for the return of a regular cycle.
The return of ovulation and regular cycles is approximately 30-90 days in all types of contraceptive use except for injections (Depo Provera), which can cause a delay in the return to regular cycles. A specific study on Depo states that within 10 months of discontinuation about 50% of women will have conceived, but a small percentage of users may require up to 18 months to regain regular ovulatory cycles. Body weight also has a significant impact on the return of fertility with Depo Provera use and must be considered. Patients with lower BMIs tend to have a quicker return to regular cycles.
What Does This Mean for You?
Overall, it is important to know that most women (over 90%) have ovulatory cycles within the first three months after stopping their birth control, unless they were using Depo Provera. This means that once you stop your birth control it is important to start tracking your cycles. You can use ovulation tests, BBT tracking and cervical mucus analysis together with Premom, the free ovulation tracker app to understand your cycle patterns and improve your chance of conception.
Lastly, if you do discontinue your birth control and do not have a cycle for three months, it is important to discuss this with your personal doctor. Sometimes your provider may need to induce a period in order to protect you from the risks of unopposed estrogen.
Baby dust to all of you!
- Benagiano G, Gabelnick H, Brosens I. Long-acting hormonal contraception. Womens Health (Lond). 2015 Nov;11(6):749-57. doi: 10.2217/whe.15.68. Epub 2015 Dec 2. PMID: 26626534.
- Girum T, Wasie A. Return of fertility after discontinuation of contraception: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Contracept Reprod Med. 2018;3:9. Published 2018 Jul 23. doi:10.1186/s40834-018-0064-y
- Hsia JK, Creinin MD. Intrauterine Contraception. Semin Reprod Med. 2016 May;34(3):175-82. doi: 10.1055/s-0036-1571438. Epub 2016 Mar 4. PMID: 26947701.