Ready to Conceive
When to Stop Taking Birth Control


When you and your partner are ready to start a family, ask your doctor about how and when to stop the birth control method you are on first. Barrier methods are easy to figure out, but you need your doctor’s advice regarding any hormonal birth control medication such as oral contraceptives, injectables, or hormonal patches.

Some women need to be off birth control for a few months before being able to conceive, especially if they’ve been on it for a while. This is because hormone levels may need a bit of time to get your body back to a normal, regular cycle. It’s ideal to have a complete menstrual cycle after going off birth control before trying to conceive. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant as soon as you stop taking birth control.

The following are a few common contraceptive methods and what to expect when you stop using it:

  1. Barrier methods include the diaphragm, cervical cap, shields, condoms for males and females, spermicidal foams, sponges, gels, suppositories, and films. You can get pregnant as soon as you have sex without these.
  2. Combination hormonal methods include pills, skin patches, and rings that contain both estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone). With regular-dose or low-dose hormonal contraception, you can get pregnant immediately.
  3. Progestin-only hormonal methods include pills, implants, and shots. With implants, you can get pregnant as soon as it is gone but it could be three to 18 months after your last injection to get pregnant. Progestin-only pills don’t seem to delay fertility and most women conceive within six months after stopping it.
  4. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) include the copper IUD and hormonal IUD. Following its removal, fertility usually comes back with the first menstrual cycle.

Here are a few things to do as you go off your birth control:

  1. Visit your OB-Gyne.
  2. Finish your birth control pill packet to avoid mid-cycle bleeding.
  3. Schedule a complete checkup.
  4. Take time to observe your menstrual cycle as ovulation may start within two to six weeks.
  5. Start an ovulation calendar to help you, your partner, and your health care provider in monitoring your fertile days.

Things to watch out for:

• If period doesn’t start after six weeks, check with doctor for post-pill amenorrhea or pregnancy.
• Irregular cycles can happen and may be shorter or longer than before, heavier or lighter. If cycle doesn’t normalize within six months after stopping birth control, check for PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and other factors that may cause irregular periods like obesity, stress, excessive exercise, or general bad health.
• You may notice changes in your skin especially as some types of birth control help control acne while you are taking them. You could break out and have oilier skin but this should only be temporary. Once your body’s hormones normalize, skin problems may decrease or at least go back to previous levels.
• Birth control pills that are higher in estrogen can cause weight gain and water retention. Going off this form of medication may cause weight loss and less bloating.
• Women who took pills to help manage premenstrual symptoms may find these symptoms increasing in severity. However, as your body adjusts, the mood swings, cramps, breast tenderness, headache, and nausea, usually subsides.

When your period starts again, you can already get pregnant. Sometimes, if conception happens during the first menstrual cycle after going off birth control medication, you may not even experience a period at all. If you get pregnant while you’re on any contraceptive, don’t worry. Just stop taking medication or have your birth control removed immediately and have a complete checkup.

Photo credits:

Philippine Association for Childbirth Education

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