Coming off the pill
You've made the decision - you're going to ditch your pill and try for a baby. So, what can you expect when you come off the contraceptive pill?
How long will it take to get pregnant after coming off the pill?
The pill prevents ovulation by artificially regulating your body's hormones. When you stop taking the pill, hormone levels can quickly return to normal and some women ovulate and conceive hours after taking their last pill, particularly if they've been using a progestogen-only pill. Of course, things aren't always that speedy. On average, it takes one to three months for the body to resume ovulation but it can take longer.
One of the signs that ovulation has resumed will be that your periods return. A period occurs naturally about 14–16 days after ovulation. The bleed that you have while taking the pill is caused by the sudden decrease in hormones when you have a week off the pill or you take placebos for a week.
It is not unusual for the first couple of cycles after stopping the pill to be irregular or longer than usual.
About one in 30 women don't get a period for many months after coming off the pill. If this happens, it doesn't necessarily mean that you aren't ovulating, just that your cycle is not regular and you may need to use other methods to find out when you are ovulating.
If this continues and you are concerned about it, see your GP.
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Should I wait before trying to get pregnant after coming off the pill?
There is no need to wait to try to conceive after you come off the pill. It is safe to get pregnant straight away. Some doctors advise waiting so that your body can return to its natural cycle so you can get a clear idea of your due date, but if you're really keen crack on as it shouldn't adversely affect your pregnancy.
Is there a higher risk of miscarriage if I get pregnant straight after coming off the pill?
No, most probably not. Even if you become pregnant while still taking the pill, there should be no effect on miscarriage risk. The evidence is not conclusive, but there have been no studies that suggest a definitive link between the two.
How does the pill affect fertility? Will it be more difficult to get pregnant after being on the pill?
The pill is a reversible form of contraception and it has been shown that the chances of getting pregnant after the pill are broadly similar to getting pregnant after stopping using condoms or other non-hormonal forms of contraception.
There are also no proven adverse effects to fertility of long-term pill use. Some people talk about a fertility boost directly after coming off the pill, but there's no evidence to back this up.
Should I finish the packet of pills that I am on? Is it OK to stop straight away?
You might get a withdrawal bleed if you stop mid-packet, which can make working out when you're ovulating rather confusing. But, yes, if you're keen to get started, it's fine to stop mid-cycle.
Why am I having difficulties conceiving after coming off the pill?
There is no guarantee you will get pregnant after coming off the pill. Being on the pill may have masked any fertility problems that you may have - such as polycystic ovary syndrome or anovulation - by simulating a regular cycle.
Many people go on the pill to sort out problem periods and these problems may return once you come off the pill.
What about other forms of contraception?
Reversible contraceptives will not affect your fertility once you decide to stop using them. If you use an IUD or a contraceptive implant then you will need to have it removed. Contraceptive injections are effective for up to 12 weeks but it can often take longer for your fertility to return to normal - sometimes up to a year.
What Mumsnetters say about coming off the pill
- I was on the pill for 20 years with only a couple of breaks, for a few months at a time each. Then I finished taking the pill and had a period a few days later. Four weeks later I was pregnant. It can happen VERY quickly. Neverinamillionyears
- I was on the pill (Cerazette) on and off for 12 years. I came off it and got my first period after six weeks, then five weeks, then four and a half, so sometimes it can take a while for you to regain your rhythm. Popcornmouse
- I came off the pill, had a withdrawal bleed and then nothing - absolutely nada - for six months. I went to my GP and after an investigation, it turned out I have polycystic ovary syndrome, which had been masked by my being on the pill. CaveMum