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Discontinuing Birth Control Use

Jennifer Beam


From preventing pregnancy to trying to conceive, family planning is a large part of a responsible relationship. Methods, uses, and the discontinuation of birth control depend on your current situation. Making sure you have adequate information is invaluable to making the right decisions for yourself, your body and your family. Because many doctors only provide information when the initial birth control decision is made, it is important to discuss your plans and lifestyle with a doctor before discontinuing your chosen method of contraception. Returning to Fertility

If you're trying to conceive for the first time and making the decision to stop your current method of birth control, there are several factors to consider. One is what, if any, side effects will you experience after stopping. Just as with starting birth control, the side effects of stopping will vary depending on the method you are using.

The return of your fertility is another factor to consider. Women who take the pill and choose to stop might experience more sporadic periods and heavier bleeding than while taking it, but their cycles should return to normal along with their fertility within a few months.

With other methods such as Norplant and Depo-Provera, similar side effects may occur including heavier and possibly continual bleeding for more than two cycles and fertility may not return for six months or more. According to Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, it takes the average woman ten months from her last Depo-Provera shot to conceive. Cases have also been reported that indicate miscarriage was more common for women who conceived during the first year after stopping or removing these methods.

Research also indicates that women who conceive with an IUD in place have a higher rate of miscarriage as well.

It is very important to discuss your situation and options with your physician before discontinuing birth control and trying to conceive.The Preconception Period

The preconception period in a couple's life can be emotionally painful when success is not achieved immediately. However, do not count on becoming pregnant or even being able to try to conceive right away.

If you were or are currently using injection or implant methods of birth control, discuss conception with your physician or a fertility or family planning specialist as specific recommendations might be made in regards to how long to wait and what methods to use in the mean time.

For those who use birth control pills, it is recommended that you use barrier (condom/spermicide) or natural planning methods for at least two cycles after stopping the pills. This allows your cycle to return to normal, and allows for better calculation of a conception date once success is achieved. If you are taking the pill and wish to stop, you should finish the month's supply before stopping as this lessens the possibility of sporadic periods for the next few cycles.

If you have recently given birth, and desire to have another child at any point or are even undecided, consider your situation carefully. Returning to your prior method of birth control may be an option, but keep in mind that your body changes after having a child and stopping for the second time may not achieve identical results. Remember too, that while pregnancy is unlikely while breast-feeding, it is not impossible.

One other thing to keep in mind, even without taking birth control, women are not fertile twenty-four-seven like men. According to Family of the Americas, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and strengthening women and families, a woman is fertile approximately 100 hours of each cycle, therefore conception may simply take time and patience. For more information from the organization on family planning and birth control, you can visit their website at Also see information on bridging the gap between contraception and conception from Maryland's Department of Health and Hygiene at

Jennifer is a Contributing writer for The Baby Corner

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