So, you’ve made the decision to stop birth control in hopes of starting or expanding your family. The good news is that having been on birth control doesn’t create problems for women who want to conceive. Most women find that their menstrual periods return to what they were like before birth control and that their fertility returns to allow them to conceive within a year when trying to do so.
Contraceptive pills, rings and patches stop ovulation so that you don’t release an egg. Once you stop these contraceptives, your ovaries become active again and work to mature and release an egg.
You can begin trying to conceive as soon as you stop these contraceptives. Typically, within 3 months of stopping, most women have had a spontaneous period, and many are pregnant already! It’s definitely a myth that you need to stop these contraceptives for any period of time before trying to conceive.
If you’ve had a history of irregular periods or are age 35 or older, conceiving may take longer because of the age of your ovaries and overall health—not the use of contraceptives. In rare cases, “post-pill amenorrhea” may happen—this means your menstrual period doesn’t return after the use of the pill. See your healthcare provider if you stopped the pill, patch, or ring and it’s been 3 months and you have not had your period return. It may necessary to check your hormone levels or perform other tests.
Similar to the pill, patch or ring, Depo Provera stops ovulation. Depo Provera is injected every 3 months but the effects on your body last longer. After your last injection, it will take at least 12 weeks for your ovaries to become active again. And for most women, it takes 4-5 months for ovulation to return.
For most women, the average length of time to conception after the last injection is 10 months, but could be as long as 18-24 months. If you’re on Depo Provera now, take these timeframes into consideration as you’re thinking about conceiving.
The Copper IUD, ParaGard, doesn’t contain any hormones, so ovulation still happens. If your menstrual periods are regular each month, you should assume that your fertility has returned and pregnancy can happen after this IUD is removed.
The IUDs Mirena, Skyla and Liletta suppress but don’t entirely stop ovulation as they contain the hormone progestin. This is why your monthly periods may or may not happen even though ovulation is still occurring most months. After these IUDs are removed, most women who are trying to conceive (77% or more) will become pregnant within 1 year.
Nexplanon, the contraceptive implant that’s inserted into your upper arm, works by preventing ovulation most months. Regular ovulation restarts and pregnancy can occur typically right after it’s removed. In fact, the hormone from the implant may be gone as soon as 7-14 days after removal.
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