Birth Control and the Effects That It Can Have on Your Fertility

birth control and fertility

The problem is, if you consult with different doctors’, research information on the internet or even just ask around to some of your friends, you are going to get a lot of different opinions and information, and you still may not have the answers you are looking for. Here is a comprehensive list of different contraceptive choices and the effects they can have on your fertility.

The Pill

First, a woman does not need to wait to try and conceive a child for a certain amount of time after she stops using the Pill. Despite many misconceptions in this area, there is no reason to wait due to a fear of what any lingering traces of the Pill may do to your baby. There have been a great number of studies that show that there is no increased risk of birth defects on babies who have even been conceived while a mother was still using the Pill, let alone after she has stopped taking it. There has also been concern that getting pregnant immediately after stopping can cause a greater chance of miscarriage, which has been proved to be largely baseless as well. Many doctors do recommend a waiting period of 1 to 2 months, but only for the purpose of being able to predict your due date more accurately. If you do become pregnant immediately, an early sonogram can help you to get a proper date for your pregnancy with no problem.

Some women also believe that it will take a period of several months to be able to get pregnant after she has ceased taking the Pill. This also is not true. Most women should begin ovulating again after just a few short weeks. And though there will, of course, be the occasional exception, (in a small number of women, the hormone signals between the ovary and the pituitary, which is what actually makes you ovulate, will be somewhat more depressed) approximately 80% of women with the desire to conceive a child will get pregnant within a year of discontinuing their use of the Pill. The majority of women whose period has still not returned after several months, (which is called post-Pill amenorrhea) usually can attribute the blame to something else entirely, such as weight problems, psychological issues, age or stress. It also seems to happen quite often in women who began taking the pill specifically to regulate their periods in the first place.

What many women are not aware of is the fact that taking oral contraceptives for a period of time can actually help you protect your fertility, due to having a reduced risk of getting colorectal, uterine and ovarian cancer. It is also helpful in reducing and suppressing the symptoms of endometriosis (a condition that causes the uterine lining to grow outside of the uterus) which can reduce your risk of getting pregnant.


The IUD or intrauterine device, used to be believed to have a detrimental effect on women’s fertility, but no more. This small, often T-shaped device was once believed to cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can ultimately lead to infertility. What has since been discovered is that the problem does not lie with the device itself, but those who have been exposed to STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) at around the time of insertion. According to the World Health Organization, when IUD’s are given to healthy women in mutually monogamous relationships, the actual risks of getting pelvic inflammatory disease is incredibly low, with the exception of a very, very slightly elevated risk during the first few weeks after first being inserted.

There are two types of IUDs available in the United States, and they are the nonhormonal copper IUD called ParaGard, or the hormonal IUD called either Mirena or Skyla. Much like the Pill, you do not have to wait to try and conceive a child after having this device removed, as a woman’s fertility will return to normal fairly quickly and without having any adverse effects on a fetus. If, however, you do become pregnant AFTER the IUD is inserted, you do stand a greater risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, (the embryo is implanted outside of the uterine cavity) preterm birth or miscarriage, so the doctor would then recommend that the IUD simply be removed until after the baby’s birth.

There is one benefit of using the IUD, Mirena, as there has been some evidence showing that this particular IUD may help to protect against some STDs, though HIV is not included. The reason for this is because the small amount of hormone in the device thickens the cervical mucus and helps to keep bacteria from rising into the uterus.

The Barrier Methods

If your preferred use of a contraceptive is something more simple, such as condoms, spermicide, a cervical cap, sponge or diaphragm, then you don’t have to worry about the risk to your fertility, as there is none. With the use of any of these birth control methods, as soon as they are out of, or off of, your body, they leave will leave you and your baby, with no lingering effects. The only exception to you would be if you or your partner use some type of latex condom and you are allergic, however, this would hurt your baby no more than any other type of allergic reaction.

Also, there is a small advantage in using condoms, (male or female) as they can protect you to some degree against a few STDs, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.


This method of birth control, (which is injected into a woman’s arms or buttocks every three months) is not a good option for a woman who wants to cease taking a contraceptive and get pregnant immediately. Unlike many other methods of birth control, Depo-Provera actually can have a lingering effect on a woman’s fertility. This drug is deposited into the muscle and takes its time getting out. The average length of time that it will take for a woman to become fertile after the last shot, is around 10 months, although some women have been known to get pregnant after only 3 or 4 months. On the other hand, some women can take up to two years to conceive, it is definitely not an exact science with this particular contraceptive and anyone who is even considering becoming pregnant should consider if this drug is the right choice for them. Also, if you become pregnant while you are on Depo-Provera, or are already pregnant, there is a higher than average risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, though the chance of your baby having birth defects seems somewhat questionable.

Ortho-Evra Patch

This contraceptive is applied directly to the skin and releases progestin and estrogen hormones and is very similar in nature to the Pill. As soon as you decide you want to stop using it, it is perfectly safe to do so and your fertility will return in just a few short weeks. There is also no reason to wait to try to conceive other than trying to properly date your pregnancy if it were to happen immediately. There are no concerns over birth defects or problems during a pregnancy following the use of the Ortho-Evra patch.

Vaginal Ring

This is simply a small, bendable ring that you insert into your vagina and leave for several weeks. Your fertility will not be harmed by it and will return within a very short period of time. Most often it is within 1 or 2 weeks and you do not need to wait to get pregnant.


This method of birth control is the most permanent. And while some women who have this procedure done, a tubal ligation, change their minds and want the procedure reversed, it is not always possible to do so. For women who have gone through this process and had their tubes tied and then reversed, their chances of actually being able to become pregnant, are not 100%, but closer to between 40 and 70 percent instead. This also depends on other factors such as age, length of tube left after surgery to be joined, scarring of the tubes, the method of how the original surgery was performed and the amount of time between when the surgery was first performed and the reversal. However, even if you have a successful reversal, a woman’s level of fertility will never be the same as it was before the procedure. The average length of time most women take to conceive after a reversal is approximately 1 year.

Men tend to have a slightly higher rate of success when they have a sterilization, (vasectomy) and then have it reversed.

If reversal is not possible, however, it is possible to achieve pregnancy through the process of IVF.

Whatever method of birth control you choose to use always be aware of all the advantages and disadvantages before beginning. Most methods of birth control will not harm your level of fertility and you will be able to conceive and have a healthy, beautiful baby. But like anything, there is always a chance that things can go wrong, so make sure and find out all the information beforehand.

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