Knowing how soon you can get pregnant after stopping birth control is an important part of family planning. In most cases, we counsel patients to stop their birth control method when they are ready to get pregnant, not before. With a few exceptions, the ability to conceive returns fairly quickly after stopping birth control, often within a month. However, there’s a difference between being able to conceive and actually getting pregnant. In this article, we’ll discuss different kinds of birth control, how quickly fertility returns after stopping them, why you still might not get pregnant right away, and when to visit a fertility specialist.
Fertility After Barrier Methods of Contraception
Barrier methods of contraception include condoms, diaphragms, female condoms, and spermicide. These methods physically prevent sperm from reaching an egg for fertilization. They do not affect ovulation or your menstrual cycle in any way. Because of this, you can become pregnant any time you do not use a barrier method during intercourse with a partner with sperm.
Fertility After Hormonal Contraception
In general, hormonal contraception prevents you from ovulating, or releasing an egg each month. When you stop using a hormonal method, your body starts ovulating again. Depending on when in your cycle you stop, you may begin ovulating again within days. Generally, with most types of hormonal birth control, many people return to ovulating around a month after stopping. These methods include the:
- combination progesterone/estrogen pill
- Progestin-only “mini-pills”
- Nexplanon implant
- Hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs)
Copper IUDs like Paragard do not contain hormones, but they also fall into this category, where you may start ovulating soon after its removal.
There is one significant exception to this hormonal birth control category, however: the Depo-Provera shot.
How Soon Can I Get Pregnant After Stopping Depo-Provera?
Depo-Provera is the brand name for a form of hormonal birth control injected into the muscles. This shot can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 weeks. However, because of the injection method, the hormones stay in your body for much longer than those in the pill, patch, implant, or IUD. For this reason, it may take several months – an average of 10 – to start ovulating again after your last Depo-Provera shot.
How Long Will It Take Me to Get Pregnant After Stopping Birth Control?
So far, we’ve discussed how long it may take to ovulate after stopping a birth control method. However, that does not guarantee you will get pregnant as soon as you start ovulating again. While it’s possible to conceive right away, it may take several months.
Studies show that for people trying to conceive after stopping birth control, around 83% successfully get pregnant within a year. This matches general pregnancy success rates, regardless of past birth control usage.
It’s important to note that studies do not show a relationship between birth control and lowered fertility or higher risk of miscarriage. You do not need to wait to try for pregnancy after stopping hormonal birth control.
Should I See A Doctor If I’m Trying to Get Pregnant After Birth Control?
As noted, not conceiving immediately after you stop birth control is normal, and not a cause for alarm by itself. However, there are some cases where it’s a good idea to see your doctor. These include if:
- You still have no period three months after stopping birth control
- Your cycle is very irregular
- You have unusually heavy periods
You also may wish to schedule a visit with a fertility specialist if:
- You are under age 35 and have been unable to conceive after trying for 12 months
- You are over age 35 and have been unable to conceive after trying for 6 months
- You have experienced recurrent pregnancy loss (two or more miscarriages)
- You have a family history of infertility or reproductive conditions such as PCOS or endometriosis
Just as birth control is an important part of family planning, so is knowing what to expect once you stop using the method. While most people start ovulating shortly after stopping many hormonal methods, it may take some time to conceive. If you have questions about your specific fertility history, birth control method, or plan for pregnancy, reach out to us today.