Everything you need to know about coming off contraception to get pregnant

Everything you need to know about coming off contraception to get pregnant Everything you need to know about coming off contraception to get pregnant

It's a huge life decision to start a family and, unless you have a surprise pregnancy, takes quite some planning and, perhaps, trying.

One huge consideration for couples is coming off contraception, specifically hormonal contraception which can have an effect on how quickly you are able to conceive.

We've put together a guide on everything you need to know about coming off contraception to get pregnant.

Hormonal contraceptives

These work by changing the levels of certain hormones in your body, and therefore can affect the length of time it takes for your fertility to return to normal.

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Hormonal contraceptives include:

  • the 'pill' (the combined oral contraceptive pill)
  • the mini-pill (progesterone-only pill)
  • contraceptive patch
  • intrauterine system (IUS)
  • contraceptive implant
  • contraceptive injection

The science

The good news is that hormonal contraceptives are temporary so once you stop them, your fertility will return to normal.

The pill and the patch are methods of contraception that raise the levels of two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, in your body.

They stop your body from ovulating each month and once you come off your pill, you will likely have a withdrawal bleed.

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When taken correctly, the pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

When can you start trying?

Some doctors prefer you to wait until after your first 'natural' period before trying to get pregnant. This makes it easier for them to know the date of your pregnancy.

But there's no reason why you can't start trying to conceive immediately.

Many women fall pregnant very quickly after stopping the pill or patch, while for some it can take considerably longer for their body to start ovulating monthly again.

The mini pill

The 'mini-pill', or progesterone-only pill, raises the level of progesterone in your body.

It will either stop you from ovulating or make it difficult for sperm to travel to the egg. Either way, your fertility should return to normal quite quickly after stopping the mini-pill.

The implant

Also known as the bar, this is a small tube that is inserted into the inner part of your upper arm.

This implant releases a low level of progesterone to help stop you from ovulating, as well as making it difficult for sperm to meet the egg.

The implant is more than 99% effective and can be useful for women who can't use contraception that contains oestrogen.

Once the implant is removed, your natural fertility will return quickly - often within days.

The contraceptive injection

The injection is a large dose of progesterone administered every three months to stop you from ovulating.

It is effective for at least 12 weeks but after this, you may become pregnant quickly.

But because it is a relatively high dose of hormones, it can take longer for fertility to return to normal - sometimes up to a year.

Non-hormonal contraceptives

The type of contraception you use is a very personal decision, but one which can be taken with advice from your doctor.

Some women will choose non-hormonal methods over hormonal variants, as you should be able to get pregnant as soon as you stop barrier methods.

They include:

  • condoms
  • diaphragms or caps
  • copper coils

Diaphragm or caps

A diaphragm or cap is a barrier method of contraception. It fits inside your vagina and prevents sperm passing through the cervix.

When used correctly with spermicide, a diaphragm or cap is up to 96% effective at preventing pregnancy.

It also needs to be left in place for at least six hours after sex.

Copper coil

The copper coil is an intrauterine device or IUD that is put into your womb by a doctor or nurse.

When inserted correctly, IUD's are more than 99% effective.

The IUD does not contain any hormones and you continue to ovulate while it's in place so there should be no delay in returning to normal fertility once it is removed.

It releases copper to stop you getting pregnant, and protects against pregnancy for between five and 10 years.

Intrauterine system

The other type of coil is an IUS. This is a small, T-shaped plastic device that's put into your womb by a doctor or nurse.

It contains a low dose of the hormone progesterone.

Once your IUS is removed, your fertility returns to normal very quickly.

Irreversible and hard to reverse methods

Other types of contraception include tubal ligation or vasectomy. It is not easy to become pregnant after these procedures.

Discuss your options with your doctor if you have used these contraception methods.

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