By Heather Frame, BSN, RN | November 7, 2022
Are you ready to take the next step in family planning but birth control has been a constant in your life for months or even years? It can be overwhelming to transition from preventing pregnancy to trying to conceive your first child!
Like with most things related to our bodies, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for how soon pregnancy can occur after stopping birth control. The biggest factor that may influence your body’s return of fertility is what method of birth control you were using.
7 Different birth control methods and their estimated return of fertility
1. Barrier methods
Such as condoms or diaphragms, physically block sperm from reaching the egg. This form of contraception has no effect on your fertility, meaning it does not prevent ovulation so you could get pregnant the next time you have sex if you are in your fertile window!
2. Oral contraceptives
Commonly referred to as “the pill”, can vary depending on what hormones are in the brand you were taking.
3. Progestin-only pills
Also known as the mini-pill, do not significantly delay fertility and time to pregnancy. Progestin thins the lining of the uterus and thickens cervical mucus
making it less likely to ovulate and hindering sperm from reaching a potential egg.
Since these pills do not consistently suppress ovulation, the return of fertility varies for each woman. It may take as little as days or it could take months to become pregnant.
On the other hand, combination birth control pills, meaning those that include both estrogen and progestin, can take longer to recover from. These pills stop the communication from the brain to the ovaries, preventing the ovaries from releasing eggs in addition to thinning the uterine lining and thickening cervical mucus. So it could take up to 3 months, or even longer for some, to become fertile again.
4. Contraceptive skin patches and vaginal rings
Typically affect the body similarly to combination birth control pills – the only difference being the hormones are absorbed through the skin and reproductive tissue respectively. You can most likely expect fertility to return within 3-6 months.
5. Intrauterine devices
Or IUDs, and implantable rods that are inserted in the upper arm, such as Nexplanon and Implanon, require an appointment with a medical professional for removal. There are two different types of IUDs: copper and hormonal. The copper IUD releases copper ions into the uterus acting as a spermicide.
Since this device has no effect on hormones, you are able to conceive as soon as it is removed if you are in your fertile window! The hormonal IUD, as well as an implantable rod, releases the hormone progestin into the uterus causing the uterine lining to thin. Much like the mini-pill, it may take as little as days or weeks to become pregnant after removal. Many women notice a return of regular cycles within 1 to 3 months; however, some women may experience prolonged endometrial thinning from the progestin IUD.
Commonly referred to as “the shot”, is a contraceptive injection given every three months. The injection site acts as a storage bin for progestin. As we have discussed in the previous forms of birth control, progestin thins the lining of the uterus and thickens cervical mucus making it less likely to ovulate and hindering sperm from reaching a potential egg. Over the course of three months, your body reaches into that storage bin and replenishes the progestin. Due to the long-lasting reserve, this method of birth control typically takes the longest for cycles to return to normal – up to 18 months.
Also known as “getting your tubes tied”, is a surgical procedure usually performed as a permanent means of birth control, but it can be reversed with another surgery should a woman later decide she wants to conceive. Successful conception depends on the extent of damage to the fallopian tubes. It is possible you could conceive after your fallopian tubes are connected again, but you would need to seek medical approval by your doctor before attempting to get pregnant since each woman’s recovery can differ depending on the technique used by the surgeon.
8. A vasectomy
It is the male’s equivalent of a tubal ligation – it can be reversed also! Just like with a tubal ligation reversal, your partner will want to check with his doctor before resuming sexual activity in attempts to conceive. The longer the vasectomy has been in place, the lower the likelihood of the vasectomy reversal being effective for conceiving.
Importance of tracking your cycle after stopping birth control
As you can see, the return of fertility widely varies for the many methods of birth control. By starting ovulation testing immediately after stopping birth control, you will increase the likelihood of finding your first LH peak. You can assume ovulation will follow your LH peak within 24-36 hours.
To put it simply, you will ovulate before starting your first period after stopping birth control. If you begin tracking correctly right away – there’s a chance that you could catch that first egg and never even have a period before getting pregnant! If you miss your first ovulation, it could take a while before you ovulate again due to hormonal regulation.
Take the guesswork out of ovulation testing by using Premom’s in-app camera to take a picture of your ovulation test – it will interpret your results and tell you exactly which days each month you are most fertile. This can ease some stress of the unknown and put you in the driver's seat of your fertility!
If you have been tracking consistently and are not quite understanding what your body is doing, please feel free to reach out to us in Ask An Expert!
Other factors to consider after stopping birth control
Contrary to popular belief, previous use of birth control does not increase the likelihood of miscarriage or birth defects after conception. Rest assured in knowing your birth control did not hinder a potential healthy pregnancy!
According to recent research, 83% of couples have successfully conceived within the first year after stopping birth control.
Though some methods of birth control have a quicker return to fertility than others, every woman is different in terms of age, anatomy, health status, fertility challenges etc. Give yourself some grace while your body transitions back to its natural cycle. If it has been 3 months since you stopped taking birth control and you still have not had a period, it may be time to reach out to your doctor for a discussion.
Good luck and baby dust to you!
Heather Frame is a compassionate Women's Health nurse. She specializes in obstetrics, postpartum, newborn care, and lactation counseling. She is committed to providing women the support they need to achieve pregnancy and thereafter. As a personal user of Premom, she can attest to how important charting your cycles is in conjunction with achieving pregnancy. She would love to help you navigate your fertility journey. Schedule a consultation with Nurse Heather right through your Premom app!
Getting Pregnant After Stopping Birth Control - Overview (cham.org)
How Soon Can You Get Pregnant After Stopping Birth Control? | University of Utah Health
When Does Fertility Return After Stopping Contraceptive Use? | SPH (bu.edu)
Birth control methods | Office on Women's Health (womenshealth.gov)
Pregravid contraceptive use and fecundability: prospective cohort study (bmj.com)