Coming off contraception (birth control) is one of the first things you need to do if you're planning on getting pregnant.
The type of contraceptive you use will affect how long it takes for your fertility to return to normal.
Types of contraceptives include:
- non-hormonal contraceptives
- hormonal contraceptives
- irreversible or hard to reverse contraceptives
Coming off non-hormonal contraceptives may mean you can get pregnant straight away.
Non-hormonal contraceptives include:
- diaphragms or caps
- copper coils (IUDs)
Other contraceptives work by changing the levels of certain hormones in your body. These are known as hormonal contraceptives.
Hormonal contraceptives are reversible. This means that when you stop using them your fertility will return to normal. But this can take time.
Hormonal contraceptives include:
- the 'pill' (the combined oral contraceptive pill)
- the vaginal ring
- the patch
- the mini-pill (or progesterone-only pill)
- intrauterine system (hormonal coil)
- contraceptive implant
- contraceptive injection
The pill, vaginal ring or patch
The pill, vaginal ring and the patch are all methods of contraception that raise the levels of 2 hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, in your body.
They work by stopping your body from producing an egg each month (ovulating).
Once you have stopped using one of these contraceptives, you will probably have a withdrawal bleed. This is like a period, but it is caused by the hormones leaving your system.
You can begin trying to get pregnant immediately after stopping the pill, ring or patch. But your doctor may 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.
Many women get pregnant shortly after stopping the pill, ring or patch. Sometimes it can take several months before your body begins producing an egg each month (ovulating) after stopping these types of birth control.
The progesterone-only pill, or 'mini-pill', is a tablet that raises the level of the hormone progesterone in your body. Depending on the type of pill, it may stop you from ovulating. It may make it difficult for sperm to travel to the egg.
Your fertility should return to normal within a very short time of stopping the mini-pill.
Types of 'coil' include:
- the copper coil (IUD)
- intrauterine system (IUS)
The copper coil (IUD)
The copper coil is an intrauterine device or IUD. The IUD does not contain any hormones and you continue to ovulate while it's in place. There is no delay in returning to normal fertility once the IUD gets removed.
Intrauterine system (IUS)
The other type of coil is an intrauterine system (IUS). An IUS is a small, T-shaped plastic device that's put into your womb (uterus) 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.
The contraceptive implant (the bar)
The contraceptive implant is a small tube that is inserted into the inner part of your upper arm.
This implant releases a low level of the hormone progesterone. This helps to stop you from ovulating, as well as making it difficult for sperm to meet the egg.
Once this is removed your natural fertility will return quickly, often within days.
The contraceptive injection
The contraceptive injection (medroxyprogesterone acetate or Depo Provera) is a large dose of progesterone given every 3 months. This injection stops you from ovulating.
The effects will last for at least 12 weeks after your last injection. After this, you may become pregnant quickly. But it can take longer for fertility and periods to return to normal after such a relatively high dose of hormones. In some cases, it can take up to a year.
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 and want to get pregnant.