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Getting Pregnant After Birth Control

How soon can you get pregnant after stopping birth control?
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Women tend to spend half their lives trying NOT to get pregnant and then when they decide they are ready, they find out it's not always that easy to conceive. In efforts to prevent pregnancy, women today use oral contraceptives, hormonal patches, condoms, and numerous other birth control methods.

When it comes to hormonal contraceptives, your best bet is to complete your current cycle and then attempt to get pregnant, says Frank A. Chervenak, MD, professor and chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City.

"After the cycle, attempts can be made to start getting pregnant although it may be advisable to wait for the first normal menstrual period after you stop taking your pills," he says. But this precaution is not essential. Some women conceive within a week or two after stopping birth control pills.

"I advise women to complete the cycle so they don't have irregular bleeding," he says. In general, the middle of the month is when ovulation and potentially conception are most likely to take place, so the optimal fertile window is a couple of weeks after stopping contraception.

An important point to consider, however, is that "if there has been a previous pregnancy or miscarriage, wait about three months to give the body a chance to recover," he says. "This is where a waiting period makes sense."

As far as other types of contraception, the intrauterine device (IUD) must be removed before a woman starts attempting to conceive, he says. Couples can just stop using condoms when they are ready to conceive, he adds.

Reviewed on March 16, 2009

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