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Getting Pregnant After Stopping Birth Control

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on November 04, 2020

Most birth control doesn’t hurt your ability to get pregnant after you stop using it. But in some cases, you may have to wait a little while for it to happen.

How Soon Can You Get Pregnant?

Not all forms of birth control affect your fertility the same way. Some may make it harder to get pregnant right away. But it’s safe to begin trying as soon as you’re ready to, even if you were using birth control that contains hormones.

Research shows that your chances of miscarriage don't go up if you get pregnant soon after stopping hormonal birth control.

Remember also that birth control isn’t the only thing that impacts your fertility. Genetics, lifestyle factors, and your health can all make a difference. Still, which form of birth control you take does affect how long it will take you to get pregnant after you stop using it.

Barrier methods -- like condoms, spermicide, and the diaphragm:Right away. These methods prevent pregnancy only on a case-by-case basis. So you may be able to get pregnant within the same month that you stop using them.

Progestin-only pill (a.k.a. the minipill): Right away. Unlike combination birth control pills -- which can have both estrogen and progestin -- the minipill contains only progesterone. Instead of preventing ovulation, progestin thins the lining of your uterus and keeps fertilization from happening.

As soon as you stop taking the minipill, the lining of your uterus begins to thicken again. That means you may be able to get pregnant.

Implant: Right away. You might be able to become an expectant mother as soon as you get the birth control implant removed.

Birth control patch:Within a few weeks. You should begin ovulating soon after removing your birth control patch. This will make pregnancy possible.

NuvaRing: A few weeks. You should be able to get pregnant shortly after removing your NuvaRing. But if you had irregular periods before you started using it, you might have them again after you take it out. This could impact on how long it takes for you to get pregnant.

Combination birth control pills: A few weeks to about 3 months. Most birth control pills contain estrogen or progestin. Some have both. These hormones leave your body quickly. But some women don’t begin ovulating regularly until a few months after they stop using them.

Over the long term, birth control pills may actually help fertility. One study found that women who used them for at least 4 years were more likely to get pregnant than women who used birth control pills for 2 years or less.

Intrauterine device (IUD): Within a few months. After you have your IUD removed, you can get pregnant as soon as you have a normal menstrual cycle. That’s true regardless of whether your IUD was copper or contained hormones. Most women begin menstruating and ovulating within 3 months of when they have their IUD removed.

Injection (a.k.a. the birth control shot): Up to 2 years. Unlike with other forms of hormone-containing birth control, you may have a hard time getting pregnant for up to a couple of years after you use injected birth control. That’s why experts don’t recommend it for women hoping to have children soon.

Before You Begin Trying

Not getting your period after stopping birth control isn’t necessarily a sign you can’t get pregnant. You might ovulate (that is, your ovaries release an egg) without getting your period. If you ovulate, you can get pregnant.

An ovulation predictor test can tell you if you’re ovulating. You can buy one at a drugstore. There are also apps you can download that can help you figure it out.

If your body temperature goes up a little bit, that can be a sign of ovulation. So can cervical mucus that’s stickier or more like raw egg whites.

If you’ve recently quit using birth control and you're not ready to get pregnant right away, use a backup method (like condoms).

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for 6 months or longer, make an appointment to talk to your doctor. Most women successfully conceive within a year of trying. But it’s still a good idea to discuss whether there are steps you can take to make conception more likely.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Mary Jane Minkin, MD, professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, Yale University School of Medicine.

Human Reproduction: “Pregnancy and lifestyle study: the long-term use of the contraceptive pill and the risk of age-related miscarriage.”

Mayo Clinic: “Minipill (progestin-only birth control pill),” “Birth control FAQ: Benefits, risks, and choices,” “Depo-Provera (contraceptive injection),” “Depo-Provera (contraceptive shot).”

University of Colorado OB-GYN & Family Planning: “Getting Pregnant After Birth Control.” 

Obstetrics & Gynecology: “Rate of Pregnancy After Using Drospirenone and Other Progestin-Containing Oral Contraceptives.”

International Journal of Epidemiology: “Cohort Profile: The Danish Web-based Pregnancy Planning Study ‘Snart-Gravid.’” 

Kaiser Permanente: “Getting Pregnant After Stopping Birth Control,” “The Birth Control Patch.”

Planned Parenthood: “What are the benefits of the NuvaRing?” “What happens with the birth control implant is removed?”

International Journal of Women’s Health: “Examining the efficacy, safety, and patient acceptability of the combined contraceptive vaginal ring (NuvaRing).” 

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Why Can’t I Get Pregnant?”

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