Optimizing Pregnancy Readiness: When to Stop Birth Control for Quicker Conception
In short, it depends on the type of birth control and the duration of use.
How long does it take to get pregnant after discontinuing birth control?
One study compared the time it took 2,841 women to become pregnant after discontinuing different types of birth control.
Length of time to pregnancy based on type of birth control:
Condoms: 4 months
Progestin-only pill: 6 months
Combined oral contraceptive: 8 months
Implant users: 10 months
Injectable contraceptives: 15 months
IUDs: 8 months (though they didn’t clarify between hormonal vs. non-hormonal IUDs)
Length of time to pregnancy based on duration of use of birth control:
Even though the average time it took women coming off oral contraceptives was about 8 months, the average length of time to conception for short-term users (<2 years) was 4.5 months, compared to 8.5 months for long-term users (>2 years).
When should I stop taking birth control if I want to get pregnant ASAP?
If you were letting me chose, I would recommend you discontinue hormonal birth control at minimum 18 months before you want to start trying to conceive.
Why so long? Remember that for combined oral contraceptives, the average time it takes to conceive is 8 months. That means half of women took longer than 8 months to conceive. Giving yourself 18 months means you have plenty of time to ensure the reason you’re not getting pregnant isn’t because you just got off hormonal birth control.
Why should I stop taking birth control before I start trying to get pregnant?
There are two reasons you should stop taking birth control long before you start trying to get pregnant.
The first is it allows your fertility to normalize post-hormonal contraception. Your body is brilliant, but it needs some time to recover, especially if your specific type of birth control has been suppressing ovulation for years. It needs time to get back into the swing of things.
The second is it gives you time to address any issues that birth control was masking that might affect your ability to conceive.
Many of us were prescribed birth control to deal with symptoms related to our periods rather than for birth control purposes. The problem is those symptoms are often a signal to you that something is out of balance. When we stop masking the symptoms, we get the information we need to get to the root cause of the issue and resolve it long before we start trying to conceive.
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Our online course “The Fertility Roadmap: Navigating Your First 12 Months of Trying to Get Pregnant” can be taken years before you start trying to conceive so you can hit the ground running when the 12-month clock starts.