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Houston Fertility Journal

How Long Should it Take to Get Pregnant After The Pill

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 30, 2016 5:37:49 PM / by Center of Reproductive Medicine   

Center of Reproductive Medicine

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Up until this point, you have been taking the necessary steps to avoid the chance of getting pregnant, but now you are ready to have a baby. If this is indeed the case and you have begun to try, you may not get pregnant right away. It is actually not as easy as those who are trying to avoid it worry it might be. However, if you are concerned that your birth control is responsible for the difficulty you are experiencing, this is not the case.

In addition, you do not have to wait for any amount of time, though some may suggest it, to attempt conception after discontinuing the pill. The only things you will now want to consider are when your time of ovulation and conception are most likely to take place for you, and whether or not your reproductive organs are in optimal condition to conceive and carry a baby.

If you do become pregnant while you are still on the pill, this is not something to worry about. This very thing has happened for as long as the pill has been around, and there is “very little evidence that exposure to the hormones in birth control pills causes birth defects. Once you learn that you’re pregnant, stop taking the birth control pill.” The effects of the pill will continue as long as you are taking it, but once you have stopped, you can begin trying to conceive right away.

How The Pill Works

In order to conceive, you must be able to ovulate, so you will obviously want to stop taking the pill once you are ready for a baby. Taking the birth control pill keeps you from getting pregnant by stopping the ovulation process from occurring. The process of ovulation is responsible for the females’ release of the egg that will ultimately be fertilized and become a baby. If no egg is released, then the sperm has nothing to fertilize.

Most pills have synthetic forms of the two female hormones: estrogen and progestin. They work to stabilize a womans hormone levels that naturally occur and prevent estrogen from peaking mid-cycle. With this happening, the pituitary gland will not release the other hormones responsible for the ovaries release of mature eggs.

The synthetic estrogen works to:

  • stop the pituitary gland from producing the two hormones, follicle stimulating and luteinizing, which prevents ovulation
  • helps the endometrium (uterine lining) to stop breakthrough bleeding during mid-cycle

The synthetic progestin works to:

  • stop the pituitary gland from making the luteinizing hormone, which instigates the eggs’ release
  • make the endometrium an unwelcome place to fertilize an egg
  • make it difficult for the sperm to fertilize the egg
  • thicken the cervical mucus to hinder the sperms ability to move

When You Stop Taking The Pill

The middle of the month is when ovulation occurs, so your optimal fertile window will occur a couple weeks after finishing your last pack of pills. Once you have stopped taking the pill, there aren't any medical reasons existing that say you can’t start trying to conceive right away, even if you have been taking the pill for a long time.

About 50% of women who are trying for a baby become pregnant within 3 months of stopping the pill (and 20% within the first month).” When no longer taking the pill, ovulation usually starts right back up again. Still, depending on your body, it can be instantaneous or take a little bit more time. Women who are of the ages 25 to 29, who have never had children, might experience a little more delay.

Women over the age of 30 most commonly experience the longest delay. Dr. Helen Stokes-Lampard, from the Royal College of General Practitioners, suggests using condoms when coming off of the pill until you have had your first period. That way you can monitor your cycle and know when to expect ovulation. Once you stop taking the pill your body has to start it’s own hormonal production again and may need some time to get back into its normal rhythm.

The ovary may take a bit to get ready so that the egg can mature and be released. Because of this, your regular period may not fall back into place for as long as 2 to 3 months. There are several thousand eggs in the ovaries ready to mature, and they may need some time to regroup before ovulation can successfully take place.

When to Talk to a Doctor

If you have been trying to conceive a baby with no success for 12 months (or 6 months if you are over the age of 35), you may want to consider talking to a doctor about getting fertility tests done. If you are infertile, the reason is not because you have been taking the pill. Your difficulty achieving a successful pregnancy could possibly suggest another underlying factor.

Depending on what your doctor finds, there are infertility treatments available that can successfully aid you in conception. If you feel it is time to take this step, it cannot hurt to talk to a doctor and get their point of view.

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Topics: Health, Reproductive Specialist, Fertility

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