Birth Control Pill Myths: It’s Hard to Get Pregnant After You Stop Taking the Pill

pregnant-woman-in-swimming-pool-rent-a-moose-flickr
Having taught human sexuality classes for years and having worked in health clinics, I have been asked many times whether it’s harder to get pregnant after a woman stops taking the birth control pill.

The idea that it’s harder for a woman to get pregnant after stopping the birth control pill is a myth. The hormones that are in birth control pills leave a woman’s body soon after she stops taking them, and it is possible for her to become pregnant within the month after she stops taking hormonal birth control. A woman’s fertility is not affected be having taken the pill in the past.

That said, you may sometimes hear about doctors advising women to “wait a few months” to actively try to get pregnant after stopping the birth control pill. This is not because one cannot become pregnant after discontinuing pill use; rather, it is often because it can take a few months for a woman to become familiar with her post-pill menstrual cycle (i.e., how many days are in a cycle, when she is ovulating) and it can be easier and more relaxing to “try” to get pregnant when one is feeling more comfortable, confident and relaxed about one’s cycle and pregnancy attempts.

If you have questions about your birth control choices or your attempts to get pregnant, please check in with your healthcare provider.

Read about more birth control myths (and a few “can you get pregnant if…?”) questions in previous MSP blog posts by clicking here. You can also learn some basic facts about birth control pills from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

[Image via rent-a-moose, thanks to Flickr Creative Commons.]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.

  • veronica

    I have been taking for 8 years I wouls likee to know do I have to wait 3 months //// do to baby defects is this true

  • veronica

    I have been taking for 8 years I wouls likee to know do I have to wait 3 months //// do to baby defects is this true

  • Debby

    Women can try to become pregnant during the first cycle after they stop taking the pill; one does not need to wait for 3 months. I have never heard of an increased risk of birth defects to babies conceived following a woman stopping the birth control pill.

    Good luck with your plans to become pregnant!

  • Debby

    Women can try to become pregnant during the first cycle after they stop taking the pill; one does not need to wait for 3 months. I have never heard of an increased risk of birth defects to babies conceived following a woman stopping the birth control pill.

    Good luck with your plans to become pregnant!

  • megan

    i just ened my period and i concieved two days after can that possible make me pregnant?

  • megan

    i just ened my period and i concieved two days after can that possible make me pregnant?

  • babyized

    i just want to ask if it is possible for me to get pregnant when i stopped taking pills at the time of my menstruation and after my menstruation my hubby and i did it?

  • http://N/A babyized

    i just want to ask if it is possible for me to get pregnant when i stopped taking pills at the time of my menstruation and after my menstruation my hubby and i did it?

  • cin

    “myth” is incorrect when u are talking about woman w pcos or similar conditions, who were pill pushed into taking it to “correct problems”, which the pill makes the condition worse if not impossible to concieve
    we are brainwashed that 28 days is “normal” lots of women have shorter or longer cycles.
    ive never been on the pill & using nfp
    i HAVE pcos & ttc .
    too often women are put on incorrect meds because most drs dont have a clue about it, drugs w harmful side affects, when there are cheaper safer alternatives.

    ps stay way from toxic chemicals in consumer products such as parabens, hormone mimicers etc etc

    to babyized:
    “periods” that depends if its actually a period. some women bleed thinking its their period & end up pregnant
    it depends on how close you are to ovulation, fertile mucus & max sperm count (2-3 days)
    some women bleed but dont ovulate (thats me)
    only your temps will tell you for sure (basal body temp).
    if u look into NFP- sympto thermal
    you would know for sure if you ovulated & also after 20 days when u are pregnant (used to control births, either way, natural safe effective)
    nfp can show u IF u do have a fertility issue & WHY.
    PSS if u have trouble staying pregnant going on progesterone cream (natural) will help u get through the 3 months b4 the placenta takes over

  • cin

    “myth” is incorrect when u are talking about woman w pcos or similar conditions, who were pill pushed into taking it to “correct problems”, which the pill makes the condition worse if not impossible to concieve
    we are brainwashed that 28 days is “normal” lots of women have shorter or longer cycles.
    ive never been on the pill & using nfp
    i HAVE pcos & ttc .
    too often women are put on incorrect meds because most drs dont have a clue about it, drugs w harmful side affects, when there are cheaper safer alternatives.

    ps stay way from toxic chemicals in consumer products such as parabens, hormone mimicers etc etc

    to babyized:
    “periods” that depends if its actually a period. some women bleed thinking its their period & end up pregnant
    it depends on how close you are to ovulation, fertile mucus & max sperm count (2-3 days)
    some women bleed but dont ovulate (thats me)
    only your temps will tell you for sure (basal body temp).
    if u look into NFP- sympto thermal
    you would know for sure if you ovulated & also after 20 days when u are pregnant (used to control births, either way, natural safe effective)
    nfp can show u IF u do have a fertility issue & WHY.
    PSS if u have trouble staying pregnant going on progesterone cream (natural) will help u get through the 3 months b4 the placenta takes over

  • cin

    megan same answer as baby,
    might have been pre ovulatory bleeding not actual menstruation
    google NFP sympto thermal or serena

    best to wait for cycles to go back to normal for best chances,
    the pill interferes w implantation (abort)

  • cin

    megan same answer as baby,
    might have been pre ovulatory bleeding not actual menstruation
    google NFP sympto thermal or serena

    best to wait for cycles to go back to normal for best chances,
    the pill interferes w implantation (abort)

  • megan

    Ive been on the pill since im 15 im now 28 does the pill effect you from orasgm and comeing during sex

  • D

    To cin, on a side note about women with PCOS…

    Your comment was written with such a negative slant that I’m curious about your story. I will say that there are many doctors that throw out PCOS as a catch-all term for anyone with a slightly “irregular” period, and often misdiagnose patients with that condition.

    I do have true PCOS, and have had it since I was growing up, complete with the ultrasounds showing the cysts, painful but infrequent periods and vastly irregular menstrual cycles (having a period that lasts 3-4 weeks, then not having another period for 8 months despite being completely celibate the whole time). I am in my mid twenties and so glad that something as simple as birth control has remedied my symptoms. I don’t feel that I was “pushed” into taking the pill at all.

    Granted at the moment, I do not have any current plans to conceive, but when I stopped taking birth control, I was able to get pregnant within a matter of a few weeks.

    There is also the matter of taking the “right” birth control, and other factors.

  • lisette

    I have a little 2 year old girl. after doctors told me I couldn’t have kids with my huband b/c of his low sperm court. I want to get pregnant again. I was thinking of getting on the pill for a couple months then get off it and see if I get pregnant being that women have said they get pregnant right after they get off the pill. what do you think?

  • lisette

    I have a little 2 year old girl. after doctors told me I couldn’t have kids with my huband b/c of his low sperm court. I want to get pregnant again. I was thinking of getting on the pill for a couple months then get off it and see if I get pregnant being that women have said they get pregnant right after they get off the pill. what do you think?

  • Geetha

    I have taken unwanted 21 oral contraceptve pill and i have stoppedt aking the pill from past 8 months ia have taken the pill only 2 months still i cannot become pragant why?

  • Tara

    i was on birth control for 2 years and i quit so that me and my boyfriend could try and have a baby, well ive been off of birth control since july, and i still havent gotten pregnant. ive tried having sex on my period and everything. and nothing has happend. What do i do now?

  • Chelsea

    I have been on birth control for almost 4 years and have recently stopped taking it because I wanted to switch the brand. I have been off of Birth Control now for about 4 months. My boyfriend and I have been having unprotected sex and he has been using the pull-out method. I know that we are not making the best off choices but am I really putting myself at that much of a risk of becoming pregnant? Especially when it has been almost over 4 months now and nothing has happened?

  • odum

    did what?

  • susanmoraes

    i have been having period problems, and the doctor has given me contraceptive pills to make my period back in to normal. im supposed to finish the medicine in March, but before i finish the pills im planning to stop and get pregrant. is it possible for me to that?? or after i have sex and i continue with my pills, it is possible?