Once you regain your fertility, this means that your body has begun to ovulate again. So, you could get pregnant.
In an ideal world, your choice of contraception should prevent pregnancy when you want it to and, when you decide you’re ready to have a baby, have no impact on your ability to conceive once you stop. Kind of like an on-off switch. Flip your birth control to “on,” and pregnancy should be a far off possibility. Switch to “off,” and pregnancy, here we come!
Things are slightly more complicated than that.
How long does that take? A lot of this depends on what birth control method you were using. Let’s compare.
Natural Methods and Barrier Methods
If you were using condoms, female condoms, a diaphragm, or spermicide for birth control—good news—your fertility should return immediately!
All barrier methods do is block sperm from reaching your egg. So, they never messed with your ovulation in the first place.
When you are not using them, nothing changes in your body. If you were using condoms, you were also being protected against sexually transmitted infections (STI)—an added bonus! Left untreated, some STIs can actually lead to infertility.
If you were using natural family planning, you may be able to get pregnant faster. Many of these natural methods require you to keep track of your most fertile days. So now, just do the reverse. Instead of not having sex around those days, go try to make a baby.
Combination pills are the most common forms of oral contraceptives. These contain both estrogen and progesterone. When taken daily, these pills protect against pregnancy by preventing the release of an egg during ovulation. They also create mucus barriers to help prevent sperm from reaching an egg.
The rate of pregnancy after stopping these pills greatly depends on the type of combination pill you’re taking. If you’re taking the conventional type, which has three weeks of active pills, it’s possible to get pregnant the next month after menstruation. It’s also possible to get pregnant if you miss a dose in the middle of your pack.
The way you come off your birth control pills can also vary if you’re trying to conceive. Suddenly stopping the pill in the middle of the pack isn’t a good idea, because it can alter your cycle. Instead, it’s best to finish the pack and let your body run through a normal menstrual cycle first.
One common misconception is that the pill adversely affects your fertility. The pill has no impact on your fertility — it just might take a couple of months for your cycle to get back to normal. You may or may not get pregnant during the first cycle after you stop the pill. In fact, women who were recently on the pill have the same chances of getting pregnant as women who haven’t taken oral contraceptives.
The Depo Provera injection protects against pregnancy for 12 weeks. If this is your birth control method, don’t expect to get pregnant anytime soon. The manufacturer of Depo Provera actually suggests that you stop getting the depo shot one year before you want to get pregnant.
So why is this? Even though Depo Provera will no longer provide you with pregnancy protection after three months, the hormone (medroxyprogesterone acetate) stays in your body much longer because it is injected into your muscle.
Though some women have reported the return of fertility within three months after their last Depo Provera injection, this is not typical. It takes some time for the hormone to make its way completely out of your body. On average, it takes about nine to 10 months (and sometimes more than a year) to begin ovulating after stopping Depo Provera.
Birth control implants, like Implanon and Nexplanon, work by releasing the hormone progestin. The implant is a thin, flexible and matchstick size plastic rod that slowly and continuously releases the hormone. Your doctor inserts it into the upper arm.
Once inserted, birth control implants can prevent pregnancy for up to three years, but you can have it removed at any time. In other words, you could theoretically have it removed after just a few months. The long-term aspect of this birth control only applies if you keep it in place.
You must see your doctor to have the implant removed. After its removal, fertility should return within one month’s time.
There is a risk that the implant will be difficult or impossible to remove if insertion was done improperly or it shifted after insertion. While removal complications occur less than 2 percent of the time, if this does happen, the effects of the implant will continue until it runs out.
IUD (Intrauterine device)
The IUD is a small, T-shaped device that a doctor inserts into the uterus during a simple procedure. Another name for an IUD is an intrauterine contraception (IUC).
IUDs prevent pregnancy by releasing either copper or synthetic hormones into the female reproductive tract. Once in place, these devices prevent pregnancy for between 3 and 5 years. Fewer than 1 in 100 IUD users become pregnant each year.
After this time, it is necessary to replace it. Not doing so increases the chance of both pregnancy and infection.
An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a highly effective form of long-term birth control, but it only works for a limited time. During this time, also, a person may wish to become pregnant. When the IUD is no longer useful or necessary, a doctor can remove it.
Female fertility may return to normal immediately after removing the copper IUD. This means that pregnancy is possible if sex occurs in the days just before or just after removal, depending on when ovulation takes place.
After a hormonal IUD removal, it may take a few months for your cycle to regulate.
Just because your fertility has returned doesn’t mean pregnancy will happen right away.
This can be a really odd experience for someone who has spent years preventing pregnancy. You might assume that without birth control, you would have conceived immediately—but that’s not entirely accurate.
There is a very small risk that your body will need help re-starting its fertility after birth control, especially if your cycles were irregular before you started.
It’s also possible that you won’t get pregnant due to reasons completely unrelated to birth control use.
You should see your doctor if:
- You don’t get your period back within three months.
- Your cycles are irregular or you have other worrisome symptoms.
- You’re over 35 and have been trying to conceive for six months.
- You’re younger than 35 and have been trying to conceive for 12 months unsuccessfully.