You’ve used hormonal birth control in the form of the pill, the patch, the ring or something else for years. Now, after years of using the pill to not to get pregnant, you’ve decided it’s the right time to have a child.
Depending on the type of birth control you use, you might be able to become fertile again just a few days after stopping. However, with some forms of birth control, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to regain your fertility.
Below, we’ve explained how long you’ll normally need to wait before you become fertile again after you stop using birth control. We’ve also listed some tips and tactics that you can apply to increase your chance of successfully conceiving.
Before we cover specific forms of birth control, it’s important to clear up a popular misconception about fertility and pregnancy.
After you stop using birth control and your fertility returns, there’s no 100 percent guarantee that you’ll become pregnant by having unprotected sex just because you’re fertile. On average, it can take anywhere from a few months to a year or longer to successfully become pregnant.
What we’re saying is, even without birth control hormones muddying the waters, reproduction isn’t very efficient.
For every month, you have about one week in which your body is optimal for becoming pregnant. Outside this week, you’ve only ever got mixed chances of becoming pregnant even if you’re healthy and fertile.
Aging makes this process even more complicated. Simply put, the older you get, the lower your chance of successfully getting pregnant becomes.
In short, you’ll probably need to wait for several months to successfully conceive, even after you stop using birth control. The good news it that most women who stop using birth control in order to conceive are successful — according to one study, 83.1 percent become pregnant within 12 months.
Because of this, we’ve focused on how long you’ll need to wait before you become fertile again after stopping birth control, not how long you’ll need to wait before you become pregnant.
Contrary to popular belief, your fertility will usually return quite quickly after you stop using the birth control pill. The precise amount of time depends on several factors, including the type of birth control pill you use.
According to a 2009 study, 72 percent to 94 percent of women who use oral contraceptives (the pill) become pregnant within 12 months of stopping.
If you normally use a progestin-only birth control pill, your fertility will usually come back fairly quickly. This is because your body usually still ovulates (meaning you still release eggs) while you use this type of pill.
Although there’s no exact amount of time for everyone, your fertility will usually return within a few weeks of stopping the progestin-only pill. Some women become pregnant days after they stop using this type of pill, although this isn’t very common.
If you normally use a combination birth control pill, your fertility will take slightly longer to come back than it would if you use the progestin-only pill.
Like the progestin-only pill, the combination pill prevents pregnancy by thickening your cervical mucus and thinning your uterine lining. However, it also stops you from ovulating, meaning you won’t release eggs while you’re taking this type of pill.
Because your body needs to start ovulating again, it usually takes one to three months for your fertility to return if you use this type of birth control pill. Just like with other forms of birth control, this can vary — some women may become pregnant less than one month after stopping.
The birth control patch and ring both work the same way as the combination pill, by releasing a combination of progestin and ethinyl estradiol into your body.
unlike the combination pill, which usually takes a few weeks or months for fertility to return after you stop using them, you can conceive right away after you stop using both the birth control patch and vaginal ring.
As always, the exact amount of time that’s required can vary, meaning you may become pregnant sooner or later than expected.
Depo-Provera®, the birth control injection, is a long-lasting form of birth control that lowers your risk of becoming pregnant for 12 to 14 weeks at a time.
Although the Depo-Provera injection lasts for 12 to 14 weeks, the hormone in the injection can remain in your bloodstream in trace amounts for significantly longer. This means that you may not be able to become pregnant for around nine to 10 months after using this form of birth control.
Most women start ovulating in three to six months after stopping their use of Depo-Provera. However, it’s possible for the Depo-Provera injection to delay ovulation for as long as 12 to 18 months, preventing you from conceiving.
Because of this, the Depo-Provera injection is usually not a suitable form of birth control if you plan to become pregnant in the next 12 to 18 months.
If you use an intrauterine device (IUD), your fertility will usually return fairly quickly after the IUD is removed. In fact, for some women, fertility can return immediately after the IUD is removed.
A pilot study from 2015 measured fertility in recent former IUD users and non-IUD users and found little to no difference in either group’s ability to conceive after 12 months. In fact, slightly more IUD users (81 percent) were able to conceive than non-IUD users (70 percent).
Another study found that a small percentage of IUD users were able to successfully conceive in under one month after the device was removed.
This same study found “no difference in pregnancy rates or time to pregnancy between former IUD users and users of other contraceptive methods.” In simple terms, you’ll be just as able to become pregnant after removing the IUD as you would be after stopping the pill or patch.
A significantly older study from 1985 studied 576 women who’d recently had their IUD removed and found that over 94 percent were able to conceive within 12 months of having their IUDS removed — nearly 60 percent of which occurred within the first three months following removal.
If you use the birth control implant, or Nexplanon®, your fertility should return fairly quickly after the implant is removed from your body. Like with the IUD, it’s possible for some women to get pregnant immediately after removal of the implant.
According to Merck & Co., the manufacturer of Nexplanon, pregnancies have been observed within seven to 14 days after removal of the birth control implant. Most women start ovulating and become fertile again in a month or less after the implant is removed by a healthcare professional.
Because condoms prevent pregnancy by creating a barrier between your partner’s sperm and your body, you’ll remain fertile while you use them. You can become pregnant as soon as you stop using protection.
This is also the case for the diaphragm, cervical cap, internal condom, birth control sponge and other barrier-based forms of birth control.
If you use the combination birth control pill, patch or vaginal ring, you’ll normally become fertile within one to three months of stopping. If you use the progestin-only pill, your fertility will come back even faster, increasing your chances of becoming pregnant in the near future.
With other forms of birth control, such as the IUD or implant, your fertility may return in less than a month. As such, these forms of birth control are good options if you’d like to get pregnant in the near future.
On the other hand, the Depo-Provera injection is best avoided, as it may prevent pregnancy for one year or longer after you stop using it.
It is important to remember that every woman’s fertility is individualistic. If you have additional questions, please contact your healthcare provider.
Looking for a fertility-friendly form of birth control? We offer over 10 generic forms of the pill, including the progestin-only mini-pill, after a convenient online medical evaluation.