Lots of women ask this question: After using contraceptives, will I be able to fall pregnant as soon as I come off it? Will using birth control for a long period of time affect my fertility? Or will it take months (or longer) for my fertility to return? What are the contraceptives side effects I should be aware of?
The answer is that it depends on the type of contraceptive you choose and the way in which it introduces hormones into your system, if it is a hormonal method. Some contraceptive methods have no impact on your fertility once you come off them, and you can fall pregnant as soon as you stop using the method.. With others, the effects take a slightly longer time to return to fertility… which means that even when you stop using them, it could some time to fall pregnant.
We’ve taken a look at these different methods below to give you a better overview of each one and its effect on your fertility. Decide how long you want to be protected against falling pregnant before choosing which one to use.
In general, the contraceptive pill is an effective method of contraception that changes the environment in the uterus by introducing hormones that will stop the egg and the sperm from meeting. Because of the hormones that the method introduces to your body, it will take anything up to 9 months to return to fertility. Therefore this would be the best method to use if you wanted to go a long period without falling pregnant with the hope of falling pregnant immediately after you stop using the method.
‘The injection’, as it’s commonly known, is the most misunderstood method altogether. While it’s relatively convenient to use and discreet (you only need one injection every two or three months and is injected into your bum), this method presents the worst side effects of most contraceptive methods. Because this method introduces a larger amount of hormones into your body it may take a longer time as compared to other methods to get out of your body. Return to fertility when using this method is up to 9 months. So we wouldn’t recommend this method for you if you want a discreet method that is less hormonal and has a faster return to fertility.
IUD (‘the loop’)
Although the intrauterine device (IUD) – more commonly known as ‘the loop’ – provides protection from pregnancy for five to ten years at a time, you might be surprised to know that return to fertility is immediate after you take it out. Also, you can choose to remove it any time that you like – you don’t have to wait the entire five or ten year period to remove it. Because the loop is a barrier method that works by changing the environment in the uterus and stops the egg from meeting with the sperm and doesn’t introduce any hormones into your system in the process. Return to fertility is quicker than the pill and the injection that we discussed above. Therefore we would suggest the IUD if you want to prevent pregnancy for a long period of time without affecting your return to fertility time frame when you decide to then fall pregnant.
The implant, which is inserted under your skin and is effective for up to five years, releases progesterone into the bloodstream at a slow and steady rate. As with other progesterone-based contraceptives, it works by preventing ovulation and thickening the mucous in the cervix to create a mucous plug, which stops sperm getting to the womb to fertilise an egg. It also thins the lining of the womb.
The implants return to fertility period is immediate once the small rods are removed from your upper arm. We would recommend the Implant for women who are breastfeeding, women who want to prevent falling pregnant for a couple for years to come, woman who want a less invasive insertion method than the IUD and do not want to affect their return to fertility.
Making your choice
Before you choose your contraceptive method, ask yourself:
- How long do I want to be protected against unwanted pregnancy for?
- When do I want to fall pregnant?
- How long am I willing to wait until I can fall pregnant after stopping a contraceptive method.
Once you have your answers, you’ll be in a good position to make the right choice.
Of course, there’s always extra assistance available at Marie Stopes. Our nurses are pro’s at helping clients to figure out exactly what type of contraceptive would be best for them, so if you want to be sure you’re making the right choice, pop into your nearest Marie Stopes centre and chat to one of them. They’re super friendly and helpful, and everything you discuss remains totally confidential. Or Give us a call to make an appointment or to chat through these methods as well.