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Can Birth Control Pills or IUDs Affect Fertility?

Did you use contraception to avoid pregnancy -- only to find yourself wondering now if it might prevent you from conceiving? In the WebMD Trying to Conceive Community, Yvette Smith, MD, MPH, may help put your mind at ease. Birth control does not have any long-term impact on fertility, she says.

For example, Smith says, you should return to your normal menstrual cycle within three months of stopping a combined hormonal method of birth control (the pill, the patch, or the vaginal ring). The same is true for progesterone-only pill and the three-year implant. With the three-month shot, your cycle should be normal six months after your last shot.

Fertility is restored immediately after diaphragm, condom, or spermicide use. And women can be fertile immediately after they stop using either of the IUDs currently on the market in the U.S. But Smith says to expect the progesterone-based IUD to take about three months to clear your system.

So the transition from birth control to fertility should be pretty smooth for most women. “Has that been true for you?” Smith asked.

Definitely not, said one member of the community. Before she went on the pill for 12 years, her periods were regular. Now, since going off the pill, she’s had only four periods in six months – and one cycle lasted 70 days.

She could be the exception to the rule, Smith said, but there are other more likely explanations for her irregular cycles. The pill may have covered up a health issue that began during the years that she was on the pill. If she is currently in her late 30s, age could be a factor. Weight gain or loss, a strenuous exercise program, or stress can also contribute to irregular periods.

Smith suggested that the woman talk to her doctor. Blood tests, for example, may help sort things out.

Discussion led by Yvette Smith, MD, MPH Guest Expert
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Hyacinth Nicole Browne, MD, is a board certified OB/GYN and Assoc. Medical Director at Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Westchester, NY... More

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