Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

Birth Control Pills May Aid Fertility

Prolonged Use May Make it Easer to Conceive Later

WebMD Health News

Sept. 27, 2002 -- Women who take birth control pills for long periods of time may find it a little easier to get pregnant once they go off the pill than other women.

A new study shows women who used oral contraceptives for more than five years before attempting to conceive are more likely to have success within six months or a year than women who have never used the pills or took them for a shorter period of time.

Researchers looked at nearly 8,500 planned pregnancies among couples in England during the 1990s. The pregnant women and their partners answered questionnaires about various factors that might have affected their fertility, such as use of birth control pills, age, whether they smoked or drank alcohol, their educational level, height, and weight.

The study found that the longer the women used birth control pills, the more likely they were to become pregnant within six months or a year of stopping use of the pills.

75.4% of the women who had been on the pill for more than five years conceived within six months of trying compared to 70.5% of women who had never used the pill. A similar advantage was found among long-term pill users who took up to a year to become pregnant compared to non-users (89.5% vs. 85.4%).

Although some previous research has suggested that using oral contraceptives may reduce fertility, researchers say those studies only looked at fertility immediately after stopping pill usage. Other studies have shown fertility returns to normal levels within three months, and this study backs up those findings.

Researchers say long-term pill users had the same fertility advantage whether they had previously had a child or not.

Researcher Alexandra Farrow, PhD, of the department of Health and Social Care at Brunel University in Isleworth, UK, and colleagues say prolonged use of birth control pills may have a protective effect on fertility by reducing the damaging effects of endometriosis and improving iron stores in women.

Other factors that were associated with a delay in conceiving in the study were the age of both the man and the woman, the woman's exposure to cigarette smoke, her level of education and her BMI (body mass index, a measure of weight in relationship to height).

The findings appear in the October issue of the journal Human Reproduction.

Today on WebMD

Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
Concerned teenage girl
hospital gown
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch
contraceptive pills
Young couple looking at each other, serious
woman reading pregnancy test result