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You are here: Home > Fertility & Trying to Conceive > Fertility Health

Stopping Birth Control and Trying to Conceive

by Kathleen Roberts | February 11, 2008 12:00 AM
46 Comments


Stopping birth control and trying to conceive is a common concern for many women. You may not want to become pregnant now, but you may in the future. Many women wanting to conceive a baby after using birth control will ask, "How will stopping birth control affect my ability to conceive?" The answer will depend on your chosen method of birth control.

Birth Control Pills

Most doctors agree that it is best to complete your cycle before you stop taking the pill. Then wait until after you first period (or two) before trying to conceive. This allows your body to return to its natural rhythm.

Waiting also makes it easier to determine the time of conception, and your due date, when you do become pregnant. Often women will experience spotting or irregular periods after they stop taking the pill. Sometimes women who conceive immediately after discontinuing the pill do not even realize that they are pregnant because they think they are having a normal period.

Length of time needed to successfully conceive after the pill varies a bit. This may be due to the type of pill you are taking and the amount of hormones it contains. Some women are able to conceive immediately while others may take a few months. A good average would be anywhere from three to 12 months

Removal of an IUD

An intrauterine device, or IUD, is generally considered a barrier method of birth control. As such, there should be no delay in the time needed to conceive once it is removed. This is so even with the Mirena IUDs which release low does of hormones to help create a sperm barrier.

Removing Norplant

The time it takes to conceive after removing Norplant will depend on if they are all removed and how long they were in place before removal. Typically, after six months fertility is returned to normal, although some women may become pregnant after only two months.

Discontinuing Depo-Provera Shots

Because this method of birth control is intended to last for three months, you might think you can easily conceive after that three-month period. In fact, Depo-Provera actually can cause a brief delay in your ability to conceive. On average, it can take as few as three months and up to 18 months for you to become pregnant.

How Will Your Fertility Be Affected Over Time?

If you have been on birth control for an extended period of time, will this affect your fertility? Generally, it will not. However, time itself does have an effect on your ability to conceive. By the time you reach your mid thirties, your fertility is on the decrease. Once you reach your forties, fertility is reduced even more with infertility likely by the time you reach the age of forty-five. The reason for this is your eggs become lower in quality as they age.

Another factor that may have a bearing on your ability to get pregnant is if you have had a baby before. If you have had a baby previously you are more likely to remain fertile longer. In a 1986 study researchers found that women who had already given birth before had very little delay in fertility after discontinuing birth control pills. Childless women aged twenty-five to twenty-nine had some delay in fertility but it was very brief. Older childless women, ages thirty to thirty five years old, had the longest delay in returning fertility when they stopped the pill. Age, and not contraceptive measures, seemed to be the contributing factor.

Plan Ahead

The best advice if you want to become pregnant is to understand that your body may need a bit of time to get back to normal if you have been using a hormonal method of birth control. Allow yourself some time, at least a month or two, to resume regular menstrual cycles. During this time, a barrier method of birth control like spermicidal foam and condoms should be used. Once you are back on track, well, you know what to do next.

Kathleen Roberts is a freelance writer and editor as well as the mother of five children. She writes about pregnancy, parenting, gardening and natural living. Kathleen enjoys spending as much time as she can in the outdoors with her family in the Florida Keys where she enjoys scuba diving, bicycling and anything else that will allow her to interact with nature.

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anonymous Jul 6, 2017 07:35:07 AM ET

Hi...i was on nuristrate for 2years...i stopped early this year...it was in march...it's july now...and i've been trying to conceive since i stopped using nuristrate... what are my chances of getting pregnant?

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Sintia Jun 22, 2017 05:28:02 PM ET

Hello, i am now 33, mother of 3. had mirena for 5 years and removed it 4 months ago and i haven't been able to conceive:( my husband and i are losing hope :( our 3 daughters are big now and a baby would bring me and my family lots of joy. please help me understand why it is taking so long to conceive if i've had mirena in the past and conceived right away :'(

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rhoda Apr 12, 2017 05:29:40 AM ET

Hi everyone. i have been using birth control (triphasil pills) for 11 years. now i'm trying to conceive. it's been 4 months since i stopped the pills, but i haven't conceived. can this make it take long to be pregnant?

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Sadie Mar 23, 2017 11:47:48 PM ET

Hi so i was wondering if i could be pregnant because i took my nuvaring out almost 3 weeks ago and have been having unprotected sex almost everyday for 2 weeks. now my nipples hurt, having lower back pains, using the bathroom more often, migraines and bloated. am i pregnant?

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Katie Anderson Jan 29, 2017 01:28:47 PM ET

I was 18 when i started birth control. i am 21 now and i stopped the pills when i was 19 and i've been trying to get pregnant ever since, but i can't...and i wanna know why

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Kristen R Lewis Dec 9, 2016 03:19:01 PM ET

Hi i'm getting my mirena removed and i heard of a lot of concern about birth defects from the hormones. what is the safest recommended waiting period to be free of the hormones before getting pregnant? trying for a second child.

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Natasha Oct 6, 2015 12:39:23 AM ET

Hi there. i have been on triphasil for about 2 years now, my husband and i are wanting kids and we want our first baby in june/july. i've been clean for a week is it possible that i can fall pregnant this month?

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Sha Apr 6, 2015 09:55:57 PM ET

I've been on and off the depo shot since i was 16, and i am now 21 trying to conceive. i've been off birth control since 5 months ago in october. i had 2 periods since then. what are my chances of getting pregnant since i have been on it for so long?

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Guest Feb 15, 2015 12:49:36 PM ET

I was on nurstrate for 2 years, and stopped last year in january. i have been having unprotected sex ever since without getting pregnant. i was also not getting my periods. on the 14th of february, i saw a spotting of blood. could i be pregnant?

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anonymous Feb 9, 2015 04:38:31 AM ET

I have completed my pills, so i stopped taking it 4 days ago. now, i just started bleeding again. it looks like i am on my period again. what can i do, or what can happen?

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