When Can You Get Pregnant After Being on the Pill?

Patient talking to female doctor.

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Many women use oral contraceptives or "the pill" as their method of contraception when they're trying to prevent pregnancy. If you're among this group, then the first step when you decide you are ready to start trying to conceive will be getting off the pill. The next question is, how long should you wait before trying to conceive after coming off the pill?

Doctors often advise women to have a preconception health visit with their doctor or midwife if they are thinking about getting pregnant. Your provider can help you devise a plan and ensure you are as healthy as possible in preparation for pregnancy.

What Happens When You Stop the Pill

It was once believed that once you stopped taking the pill, you should wait two to three menstrual cycles before becoming pregnant. Doctors also once believed that if you got pregnant right away, there was a higher chance of miscarriage. It turns out that isn't true, as the hormones found in birth control pills don't stay in your system after you stop taking them.

When you go off the pill, you may experience withdrawal bleeding, which is the period-like bleeding you experience when taking the non-hormonal pills in your pack. Withdrawal bleeding is not the same as true menstrual bleeding, but that doesn't mean you aren't fertile. If you do get pregnant before having your first true post-pill period, you may have a slightly harder time pinpointing exactly when you ovulated, which could make it challenging to estimate your due date.

Ovulation Cycles Post-Pill

Most women begin to ovulate again within two weeks of stopping the pill, which is a sign that you are now able to get pregnant again. While you have a chance to get pregnant during every ovulation cycle, you still may not get pregnant right away. It can take a couple up to a year to get pregnant, even with no problems related to their reproductive respective health. Still, going several cycles without conceiving often concerns women about the state of their fertility, especially after they've stopped birth control.

One thing to do if you are wanting to conceive is to track your ovulation cycles. You can start simply with one of the apps that estimate when your next period is due based on the date of your last period and then move onto the other more involved methods if you still have not conceived after a few months. You might consider learning about and charting your fertility signs like cervical fluid and basal body temperature or using ovulation prediction kit (OPK) products.

Effects of Hormonal Birth Control

Research has shown that taking birth control pills can deplete your body of nutrients such as folate, vitamins B2, B6, B12, C, and E, and minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Many of these vitamins and minerals are highly associated with fertility and are vital for pregnancy, so it's worth taking a close look at your diet both before and after going off the pill to see if you may be falling short in certain areas.

In addition to preventing pregnancy, many women also use the pill to regulate their menstrual cycles or to alleviate symptoms such as heavy periods and menstrual pain. In such cases, it can take several months to have a normal period again after stopping the pill. You may experience what's known as post-pill amenorrhea, or your body is still not producing the hormones needed for ovulation and menstruation. Another possibility is that your previous symptoms were a sign of an underlying issue such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.

In any case, if you have not had a period within three months of stopping the pill, take a pregnancy test to confirm that you're not pregnant and make an appointment to see your provider.

A Word From Verywell

While you're waiting to get pregnant after the pill, it can be helpful to talk to your doctor about your symptoms to alleviate your concerns about what's normal and what's not. Yes, some women do get pregnant on the pill, miss a pill and get pregnant, or come off the pill and get pregnant right away. But there are also many women whose bodies need time to regulate after stopping these hormones. This just means it may take you a while to get pregnant, which is perfectly normal.

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