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Oral contraceptive pills also called birth control pills (BCPs) is one of the effective methods to prevent unplanned pregnancies. They allow family planning and ease out the physical and mental stress related to having a baby. So, when you are ready to conceive, do you just stop taking the pill? Well, not really. When you do decide to have a baby after being on the pill for several months or years, you need to have some awareness about conceiving after stopping the intake of birth control pills, and if needed, you should consult your doctor also.
So, what happens after stopping the pill? Your menstrual period may start sometime within the next few weeks or even within the next couple of months, and you might ovulate about two weeks before your period, though your cycle may be irregular for a while. Hence, you can start trying to conceive as soon as you stop taking the pill, although it could take one to six months for you to get pregnant. Read on for more information on getting pregnant after stopping the pill.
How Does a Contraceptive Pill Work?
There are two types of pills available, the combined contraceptive pills and the progestin-only pills. Combined contraceptive pills are the most frequently used oral contraceptive pills. These pills contain low doses of the hormones oestrogen and progestin that work together to prevent ovulation. They mainly prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg.
The progestin-only pill, also called mini-pill, works by suppressing ovulation, thinning the uterine lining, and thickening the cervical mucus to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.
How Soon Can You Get Pregnant After You Stop Taking the Pill?
Getting pregnant after being on the pill can happen immediately or after a few months. There is no way to predict it. Once the birth control pill has been stopped, some women may get pregnant right away upon having intercourse, while others may take a few months to conceive.
The body needs some time for the natural hormonal levels to return to normal. The ovary needs to get ready so that an egg can mature and be released. The uterine lining also has to thicken again to ready itself for implantation.
After discontinuing the pill, ovulation and fertility can take between one to six months to return to normal. Conception can happen only if ovulation occurs. Studies suggest that around 50% of women on the combined pill get pregnant within 3 months of stopping the pill, while most of the others get pregnant within 12 months. Women taking the mini-pill usually get pregnant within 6 months of stopping the pill. If after 6 months of stopping the pill, you are still not pregnant, consult your doctor.
Also bear in mind that fertility also changes with age. A woman’s ability to get pregnant decreases gradually with age. So, a normal, healthy 25-year-old woman is more fertile than a healthy 35-year-old lady. This could also affect the time it takes for you to conceive after stopping the pill.
You can increase your chances of getting pregnant if you know you are ovulating and have intercourse around that time. To find out if you are ovulating, you can use an ovulation predictor kit available in the market. The kit helps detect the presence of increased levels of luteinizing hormone in the urine, which indicates that you are about to ovulate in the next two days.
Sometimes, the pill is used to treat conditions like uterine fibroids, polycystic ovaries or severe acne. In such cases, you should consult your doctor before stopping it.
When Can You Get Your Periods After You Stop Taking the Pill?
After stopping the pill, you may get your menstrual period anytime within the next few weeks to the next few months. Within months of stopping the pill, your fertility level returns to normal. If you had precise 28 to 30-day menstrual cycles, you would resume having them. If you had irregular periods, you would probably have the same irregular cycle once again.
For some women, the periods may not return immediately after stopping the pill. This is called post-pill amenorrhoea, which usually gets sorted in a few months. Since the hormones in the BCPs stop ovulation, it can take at least three months for your body’s natural cycle to resume. This may take up to nine months for some women. Fitness levels, weight, stress levels and medical conditions like polycystic ovaries can all affect your menstrual cycle.
Having said that, if you happen to be ovulating immediately after stopping the pills, there is a chance that you will get pregnant if you have intercourse without using any other means of contraception. In that case, you might miss your next menstrual cycle too. A pregnancy test is recommended if you have had intercourse after going off the pill, and haven’t had your period ever since. You may also check with your doctor for more clarity on it.
Should You Wait Until You’ve Had a Period Before Trying to Conceive?
Medically, you can conceive as soon as you stop taking the pill. However, doctors often advise women to wait until after their first menstrual period to start trying to conceive. This is to let your cycle normalise and make it easier to calculate your due date accurately. The first bleeding you experience after stopping the pill is called withdrawal bleeding. The second bleed is your first natural period.
Women will begin to ovulate normally around a month or two after stopping birth control pills. Once your body returns to having regular menstrual cycles, it will be easy to predict ovulation more precisely. Having intercourse during the time of ovulation increases your chances of getting pregnant. So, you may want to wait for your first period so that you can predict the time of your ovulation when you try to conceive.
What If You Can’t Get Pregnant After Being on Birth Control Pills?
When stopping oral contraception, women might expect their bodies to be ready to conceive right away. However, the body needs to adjust to the difference in hormone levels post stopping the pills. The lining of the uterus needs to thicken, and the ovaries have to release an egg.
Try not to be disheartened if you do not conceive right after stopping the pill. Keep trying to get pregnant. Meanwhile, eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also, exercise regularly and start taking prenatal vitamins. The prenatal vitamins should include a daily dose of folic acid. Preparing in advance will help you have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby.
If you have been trying to conceive for more than 6 months after stopping the birth control pills, consult your doctor. The doctor may perform tests to determine if there is anything preventing you from getting pregnant.
There are some common misconceptions that the pill affects your fertility, and that getting pregnant too soon after stopping the pill can affect the health of your baby. You may want to speak to your doctor and rule these misconceptions out because there is no scientific evidence to support them.
Birth control pills work by suppressing ovulation. So, after stopping the pill, women should allow their bodies some time to adjust until their natural menstrual cycle resumes. Try to lead a stress-free life and follow a healthy food and exercise regime. They will help increase the possibilities of you getting a regular menstrual cycle and in turn, your chances of getting pregnant.
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