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Coming off contraceptives to get pregnant

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

Non-hormonal contraceptives

Coming off non-hormonal contraceptives may mean you can get pregnant straight away.

Non-hormonal contraceptives include:

  • condoms
  • diaphragms or caps
  • copper coils (IUDs)

Your choices of contraception -

Hormonal contraceptives

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

Your choices of contraception -

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 pill -

Vaginal ring -

The patch -

The mini-pill

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.

The mini-pill -

The coil

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.

The copper coil -

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.

Intrauterine system (IUS) -

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 implant -

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.

Injectable contraception -

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.

Male sterilisation -

Female sterilisation

Discuss your options with your doctor if you have used these contraception methods and want to get pregnant.

Before stopping your birth control

Page last reviewed: 16 December 2022
Next review due: 16 December 2025