Getting Pregnant After Stopping Birth Control

Woman taking contraceptive pill

If you are considering pregnancy, can you just stop taking birth control and get pregnant?  In many cases, yes. You may be able to conceive by discontinuing your birth control and having regular sex. This goes for almost any type of birth control. Remember that some forms of contraception, like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, will need to be removed by your doctor or midwife during an office visit.

Return to Fertility

You should consider yourself fertile once you have stopped taking birth control pills, had your IUD or implants removed, or stopped using barrier methods such as diaphragms or condoms.

If you have been using Depo-Provera injections to prevent pregnancy, it may take several months for your fertility to return. For a woman who has been getting injections for a year or longer, it takes, on average, 5 to 6 months for fertility to return. But it can be shorter or much longer, so bear that in mind when deciding when to stop using the injections.

Should You Wait to Try to Conceive?

Some people believe that you should not try to conceive immediately after you stop using hormonal birth control (like oral contraceptives or the IUD). But there is no need to wait to try to get pregnant in these cases. It is perfectly safe to conceive right away, or to try to.

However, your cycles may not be regular right away. This could make timing intercourse more difficult. Time will usually resolve this problem, but you can also chart your fertility and test for ovulation if you are hoping to conceive quickly.

While it is absolutely possible to become pregnant in the first cycle after you stop using a birth control method, you may not want to get pregnant right away. In these cases, you could use condoms or another barrier method to temporarily avoid conception.

Preconception Health

Ideally, before you get pregnant, you will have any chronic health conditions under control. Talk to your doctor or midwife about conditions such as thyroid disease or high blood pressure and how they might be affected by pregnancy.

Being the healthiest you can be will help you have a more comfortable, safer pregnancy. You may wish to set up a pre-conception appointment with your health care provider. Part of this discussion can include when to stop using birth control.

Pregnancy Planning

Only about half the pregnancies in the United States are planned. When a pregnancy is unplanned, there is more risk that the parents are not physically or mentally prepared for pregnancy. There is also an emotional component of pregnancy. Waiting for a cycle or two after stopping birth control to try to conceive can help you emotionally prepare for pregnancy. But again, this is not necessary to have a healthy pregnancy.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Barnhart KT, Schreiber CA. Return to fertility following discontinuation of oral contraceptives. Fertil Steril. 2009;91(3):659-63. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.01.003.

  2. Pardthaisong T, Gray RH, McDaniel EB. Return of fertility after discontinuation of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate and intra-uterine devices in Northern Thailand. Lancet. 1980 Mar 8;1(8167):509-12. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(80)92765-8. PMID:6102234.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unintended pregnancies.

Additional Reading

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.