Here’s How the Pill Impacts Your Fertility

Published: February 1, 2021Updated: August 26, 2022

For lots of people, taking the pill is such a normal, everyday part of life that they never think ahead to a time when they won’t want to be on the pill. But eventually, you may want to start trying to get pregnant—and you’ll want to be super informed about anything related to your fertility. 

Here’s what to know about how the pill impacts your fertility, and when to stop taking the pill in order to try to get pregnant.

What happens when you stop taking the pill

When you stop taking the pill, a few things happen. First, the hormones that were in the pill (estrogen and progestin) cycle out of your body, a process that only takes a few days. At the same time, your body starts making the natural hormones that were blocked by your birth control, so you’re able to start ovulating again (often within about two weeks of stopping the pill). 

As your body adjusts back to life without the pill, you might feel a little off: your period might be heavier and longer than what you’re used to, or you could experience PMS symptoms. On the bright side, you might feel a little more excited to get it on, since low sex drive is a common side effect of being on the pill—bow-chicka-wow-wow. 

Does the pill affect fertility?

It’s been a long-standing myth that being on the pill for years has a negative impact on your fertility. That’s probably a scary thought if you’re one of the thousands of people who have been on birth control since your teenage years. 

But, there’s good news: several studies have shown that there’s no link between using the pill and infertility. If someone has a hard time getting pregnant coming off of the pill, it’s typically for one of two reasons. 

First, age. You may have been on the pill for most of your adult life, and if you stop taking it as an older adult, any difficulties getting pregnant are more likely to be age-related. Or second, being on the pill may have masked a reproductive issue that already existed in your body. It’s possible for people to experience polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, or other ovulation-related disorders, but not realize it because being on hormonal birth control masked their symptoms. 

When should you go off the pill if you want to get pregnant?

Depending on when you stop taking the pill during your cycle, you could get pregnant pretty quickly. You can expect to start ovulating again within about two weeks of ditching the pill, but that can vary from person to person—so be sure to use a backup method, like a condom, to prevent pregnancy.

On average, people who stop taking the pill take about eight months or so to get pregnant, with the vast majority getting pregnant within a year. So if you’re trying to have a baby by a certain point in your life, build in about a year for “trying” and all the fun that entails (wink, wink). But, there’s no exact timeline, and it’s going to be different for everybody depending on age, hormone levels, overall health, and more. 

Ready to take the first step towards pregnancy? The good news is, there’s no special way to get off the pill—just stop taking it, even if you’re in the middle of your pack. Of course, make sure you’re talking to your doctor about these decisions to help guide you towards family planning, but for the most part, you should have the green light to throw that pack in the trash and hit the sheets.

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