A woman may have to come across several ironical situations in her lifetime; for instance, after spending years to figure out how not to get pregnant, she may suddenly find herself experiencing the fear of female infertility, all because of a tiny pill she has been taking to prevent pregnancy till now. One of the most common forms of female contraceptives, the hormonal birth control pills may work differently on different women. But one concern that may be common for all is about how much time would be needed to restore one’s fertility once the woman stops taking the pill.
Is it possible for a woman to get pregnant straightaway after ditching the pill or are there chances that she may come across female infertility? With such questions coming up for women who have been on the pill for years, it becomes essential to bust the myths attached with popping the pill. For this purpose, it is important to know all about the pill and how it works (and of course, how soon it stops working!).
Birth Control Pills: How do they work?
Most of the commonly used birth control pills are the combination type, made by combining the key female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones work to stop the normal ovulation cycle, which results in the ovaries not producing eggs (and it is practically impossible to conceive without an egg).
The other kind of birth control pill is the mini pill, which is a progesterone-only pill, and is recommended for women who cannot be put on estrogen (lactating mothers, women over 35 and those suffering from severe side effects of the hormone). Mini pill thins down the uterine lining and changes the consistency of cervical mucus for the prevention of pregnancy.
As long as a woman takes her pills regularly, the chances of getting pregnant are negligible because their effectiveness has been estimated to be as good as 99%. Now the next question that arises is how long it can take for a woman to be back to her fertile self after she goes off the pill.
Conception after stopping the pill
The good news is that a woman can get pregnant straightaway after she stops the pill, though the timing may vary from person to person. The pill basically works by halting ovulation and the woman can conceive as soon as the ovulation cycle gets back to normal after stopping the pill. A woman who wants to conceive after ditching the pill needs to complete her current pill pack and then not start the next one (in other words, she should not just stop in the midway of a particular cycle of birth control).
At the same time, some doctors may suggest that the woman should wait for a month or two before trying for a baby after the pill is stopped. They can use barrier method during this time period. This is done for ensuring that the ovulation cycle becomes regular because if a woman does get pregnant during an erratic cycle, it may sometimes become difficult to calculate her estimated due date. Moreover, in some women, it may take many months for ovulation to return to normal and the period may be irregular till then, which may cause female infertility issues. In other cases, pregnancy may occur as early as two weeks after the pill is halted.
On an average, women may take one to three months to get their ovulation cycle back to normal after the pill has been stopped. Regularity of menstrual cycle is the primary symptom of normal ovulation, while a woman can use ovulation prediction kits and basal body temperature to find out the exact status of the ovulation cycle (so that she can know the best time to try for conception).
Amenorrhea refers to the condition when a woman misses her period and this is a common occurrence after stopping the intake of birth control pills. It can indicate that a woman is pregnant or her ovulation cycle has failed to come back to normal. A pregnancy test can be used to confirm pregnancy and if it fails, the latter is established. It is normal for a woman to come across post-pill amenorrhea, which may last sometimes even for months after ceasing the pill. The condition can however sort itself out as the body restores its normal rhythm and the woman can attempt conception soon after that.
The effects of hormonal contraceptives are different on every woman and the same applies to the duration in which fertility is restored for them. There is a common misconception that the lingering effects of the pills in the system can cause some damaged to the fetus conceived immediately after discarding the pills. This is a reason why some women prefer to wait for a few months before planning conception, but studies have proved otherwise. In fact, the pill has been proved effective in boosting fertility as it reduces the risk of reproductive issues such as endometriosis, irregular period, ovarian and uterine cancers.
Gaudium IVF is one of the top IVF clinics centre in India and is a renowned name for bringing advanced treatment for female infertility and other gynecological issues. It guides and counsels patients regarding use of effective contraceptive measures such as birth control pills.
Contact here for a free second opinion from Dr Manika Khanna, the leading laparoscopic surgeon and infertility specialist in India.