All you need to know about stopping The Pill

It’s a big moment!  The time is definitely right…you’ve decided you’re ready to have a baby!

If you’ve already spent a few years on the pill trying not to fall pregnant, one of your first thoughts is bound to be: “Just how long will it take for me to become pregnant?”

Fortunately, the pill does not affect fertility, but your body will need some time to adjust and a pregnancy will happen once your body is ready!

How does the Pill work?

Firstly, let’s take a look at how the birth control pill works in preventing a pregnancy. There are two types and this is what they do.

The COC (combined oestrogen and progesterone pill) works by:

  • preventing ovulation (it stops your eggs developing, which means that they aren’t released from the ovary)
  • the progesterone component reduces sperm penetration by making cervical mucous thicker

The progesterone-only pill (the so-called “mini-pill”) works by:

  • thinning the lining of your uterus (womb), which means that it’s less likely that an egg will be able to implant there
  • making the cervical mucous thicker, which makes it difficult for sperm to get through
  • changing the normal movement of your Fallopian tubes, lowering the chance of fertilisation

How to stop taking the pill

You’re probably wondering when is the best time (and safest way) to stop the pill if you want to fall pregnant – here’s the answer:

  • keep taking your pill until you reach the end of that packet of pills, and then just don’t start a new pack.
  • research shows that it is safe to fall pregnant as soon as you’ve stopped taking your pill – there’s no higher risk of foetal problems nor miscarriage
  • some doctors may suggest using a condom or diaphragm until you’ve had one or two periods, but it’s not essential (it may help track your cycle to assist in predicting your due date, but a sonar can help determine this as well)

Remember to start taking 400-600mcg folic acid per day around 1-2 months before stopping the pill – this is to decrease the risk of certain birth defects and miscarriage.

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Now, for the million dollar question: you’ve stopped taking the pill – how long it will take to become pregnant?

Studies show that within one year of going off the pill, 80% of women who want to become pregnant, will. However, remember that you need to be ovulating in order to fall pregnant. Whilst it is possible to start ovulating and become pregnant in the first cycle after stopping the pill, it’s unlikely. It can take some time for your body to get back into its normal rhythm: some women could become pregnant immediately, whilst it could take other women several months up to a year.

What could be the reason for not getting one’s period after stopping the pill?

Well, either you are have already become pregnant, or you did not ovulate. If you perform a pregnancy test (and repeat it some days later) and it’s negative, this can be quite normal as many women may not see their period for 2-3 months.

Remember, that an important factor in determining how long it’ll take for your ovulation to return to normal, is how regular your ovulation was prior to taking the pill

Other factors that can play a role include:

  • your age (you may be a number of years older now, than when you first started taking the pill)
  • the type of birth control you were using
  • your general health and certain medication/treatment (i.e. chemotherapy)
  • your body weight (under- or overweight)

What else can you do to improve your chance of falling pregnant?

You can try the following to estimate when you’re about to ovulate:

  • watch your cervical mucous
  • use a basal body temperature chart
  • buy an ovulation prediction kit
  • have sex regularly around the time you estimate that you may be ovulating

If you have anymore questions, why not sign into our App and ask us directly? We’d love to help!

Dr. Leanne