Getting pregnant after stopping birth control

If you are planning to become pregnant, it is ideal to have a full menstrual cycle before you try to conceive. You can more accurately calculate the fetus's age by counting from the first day of your last menstrual period before you became pregnant.

The amount of time it takes for a woman's full fertility to return after stopping birth control varies for each woman and depends on the birth control method she is using. Your ability to get pregnant gradually decreases as you age, starting at age 25. Poor health and irregular periods may also decrease your fertility. After you stop any form of birth control, you may have a more difficult time getting pregnant simply because you are older than when you started using birth control.

  • Barrier methods. You can get pregnant the next time you have sex when you stop using any barrier method. Barrier methods include the diaphragm, cervical cap, Lea's Shield, male condom, female condom, and spermicidal foam, sponge, gel, suppository, and film.
  • Combination hormonal methods. These methods include pills, skin patches, and rings. They contain both estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone). You can get pregnant right away after stopping regular-dose or low-dose hormonal birth control. About half of women get pregnant in the first 3 months after stopping the Pill, and most women get pregnant within 12 months after stopping the Pill. Specific information about how quickly a woman's fertility returns after stopping use of patches or rings is not available, although experts believe the delay may be similar to or shorter than the Pill.
  • Progestin-only hormonal methods. These methods include pills, the implant (Implanon), and the shot (Depo-Provera). With the implant, you can get pregnant as soon as it is removed. It may take 3 to 18 months after your last Depo-Provera shot (a progestin-only hormonal method) to get pregnant. The progestin-only pill, also called the "mini-pill," does not seem to delay fertility. Most women will get pregnant within 6 months after stopping the mini-pill.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs). For both the Copper-T 380 A and Mirena IUDs, fertility usually returns with the first menstrual cycle following IUD removal.

If you get pregnant shortly after stopping the Pill, don't worry. Using oral contraception just before a pregnancy doesn't increase the risks of miscarriage or fetal problems. However, if you do not have a normal menstrual cycle before you become pregnant, it might be a little harder to accurately predict your due date.

If you are planning to become pregnant, it is a good idea to start taking a multivitamin that contains folic acid (400 micrograms). Taking this vitamin in early pregnancy can reduce your chances of having a baby with certain birth defects.

Last Updated: May 22, 2008

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