When Does Fertility Return After Stopping Birth Control?

Birth control lets you decide if and when to get pregnant. If you're like many people, you may spend years using birth control to prevent pregnancy.

But what happens when you're ready to get pregnant? Will you be able to get pregnant right away after you stop using birth control? Is it as easy as stopping the pill or not inserting another NuvaRing? The best answer we can give you is "it depends."

There are many misconceptions about how easy it is to get pregnant once you have stopped birth control. This article discusses different birth control methods and how quickly you can expect fertility to return after stopping them. It also looks at some other factors that may affect fertility.

Couple hugging and looking at seedling
Lilly Roadstones / Getty Images

How Long Will It Take to Get Pregnant?

Most hormonal birth control methods stop you from ovulating, or releasing an egg. If you do not release an egg, there is nothing for sperm to fertilize. This is why you do not get pregnant.

When you stop using hormonal birth control, you will start ovulating again. When you are ovulating, you are fertile. But a return of fertility does not automatically mean you will get pregnant.

Recap

Hormonal birth control methods stop ovulation. That is how they prevent pregnancy.

Fertility Return by Birth Control Method

When you regain your fertility, your body begins to ovulate again. Then, you can get pregnant. How long it takes depends on what birth control method you were using. Let's compare.

Barrier Methods and Natural Methods

If you were using a barrier method, there is good news. These methods do not interfere with fertility. Barrier methods include:

Barrier methods block sperm from reaching your egg. These methods do not stop ovulation. Whether you are using them or not, your monthly cycle does not change. 

As an added bonus, condoms also protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Left untreated, some STIs can lead to infertility.

Some people use natural family planning methods. If this is you, you may be able to get pregnant faster. Many of these methods have you keep track of your most fertile days. So now, just do the reverse. Instead of avoiding sex around those days, go try to make a baby.

Combination Birth Control Methods

Combination birth control methods include combination birth control pills, NuvaRing, and the patch. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there about these methods.

You may have heard it takes at least three months for ovulation to start up again after you stop the pill. This is not usually true. For most people, ovulation will start within weeks. For some, though, it can take one to three months.

Think about it like this: The pill works because it stops ovulation. If you miss a couple of pills, you might ovulate and you might get pregnant. Some healthcare providers even say you are most fertile just after you stop taking the pill. 

So where does the “three-month myth” come from? Your healthcare provider may tell you to use a condom (or another over-the-counter method) until you have had three periods. This is just because waiting will help you keep track of your cycle. That way, if you get pregnant, it will be easier to guess when the pregnancy happened.

There is no medical reason to wait after you stop birth control before trying to become pregnant. Just be prepared that your fertility may return within the first month.

NuvaRing and the Patch work the same way as the pill, so the same goes for these methods. Fertility should return quickly. Most research shows that 80% of people who stop using these methods and want to get pregnant will get pregnant within the first year. This number is the same as that of the general population.

This also seems true for other types of birth control pills. When you stop progestin-only or extended-cycle pills, your fertility should return quickly.

IUDs

IUDs have a scandalous reputation. You may believe they cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which leads to infertility. This is also not true. 

There are two types of IUDs:

You can have your IUD removed at any time by a qualified healthcare provider. Please do not try to take it out yourself. Fertility returns very quickly after removing an IUD, usually within a month. This is true for both types of IUDs. Your uterus just needs time to get used to the IUD not being there anymore.

Research shows that once an IUD is removed, pregnancy rates are about the same as the rest of the population.

Nexplanon

This is a progestin-only birth control implant. Nexplanon releases progestin for three years. You can have it removed any time before the three years are over, though.

Fertility will come back quickly no matter how long you used this method. After the implant is removed, fertility usually returns within a month.

Depo Provera

Depo Provera is an injection that prevents pregnancy for 12 weeks. Don't expect to get pregnant quickly after you stop this method. The manufacturer says you should stop getting the shot one year before you want to get pregnant.

Why is this? Depo Provera only prevents pregnancy for three months. But the hormone, medroxyprogesterone acetate, stays in your body much longer. That is because it is injected into your muscle.

Though some people have reported the return of fertility within three months after their last Depo Provera injection, this is not typical. It takes some time for the hormone to make its way completely out of your body.

On average, it takes seven to 10 months to begin ovulating after you stop Depo Provera. For some people it may take more than a year.

Other Fertility Factors to Consider

As a rule of thumb, your fertility should go back to the way it was before you started birth control. If you had regular cycles before, you should have regular cycles again.

Your age may also play a part. That is because fertility drops as you get older. This is especially true once you turn 35.

There has been a lot of research on the return of fertility after stopping birth control. A review of studies showed that birth control use does not harm fertility. Pregnancy rates within one year of stopping birth control look like this:

  • Birth control pill: 72% to 94%
  • Condom/barrier method: 94%
  • Progestin-only birth control: 70% to 95%
  • Natural family planning: 92%
  • IUD: 71% to 96%

Recap

Research shows that birth control use does not harm fertility. After you stop using birth control, your fertility should go back to the way it was before you started.

Fertility Does Not Equal Pregnancy

You may not get pregnant right away even after your fertility returns. Some people become pregnant within a month. Others may try to get pregnant for a long time.

At this point, your ability to get pregnant has nothing to do with previous birth control use. Your age, health, and lifestyle can all make it harder to get pregnant. You may also experience infertility.

You may have concerns after you stop birth control. Talk to your healthcare provider if:

  • Your period doesn’t come back after three months
  • The number of days you have your period changes
  • Your cycle is irregular
  • There is a major change in how heavy your bleeding is
  • You are younger than 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for 12 months
  • You are over 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for six months

Summary

Past use of birth control does not affect future fertility. How quickly your fertility returns depends on the method you were using.

Barrier and natural methods do not affect ovulation, so you will already be fertile when you stop using them. When you stop most combination birth control methods like the pill and NuvaRing, your fertility should return within the first month. With Depo Provera, it may take seven to 10 months for fertility to return.

Other factors may also impact your fertility. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns after stopping birth control.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gebel Berg E. The chemistry of the pill. ACS Cent Sci. 2015;1(1):5-7. doi:10.1021/acscentsci.5b00066

  2. Goundry AL, Finlay ER, Llewellyn CD. Talking about links between sexually transmitted infections and infertility with college and university students from SE England, UK: a qualitative study. Reprod Health. 2013;10:47. doi:10.1186/1742-4755-10-47

  3. Girum T, Wasie A. Return of fertility after discontinuation of contraception: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Contracept Reprod Med. 2018;3:9. doi:10.1186/s40834-018-0064-y

  4. Intrauterine devices: an effective alternative to oral hormonal contraception. Prescrire Int. 2009;18(101):125-30.

  5. Stoddard AM, Xu H, Madden T, Allsworth JE, Peipert JF. Fertility after intrauterine device removal: a pilot study. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2015;20(3):223-30. doi:10.3109/13625187.2015.1010639

  6. Divya V, Gayathri M, Priyadarshini P. DMPA: Compliance and side effects in a tertiary care hospital. International Journal of Recent Academic Research. 2019;1(6):263-264. Accessed August 18, 2021.

  7. Pfeifer S, Butts S, Fossum G, et al. Optimizing natural fertility: a committee opinion. ASRM Pages. 2017;107(1):52-58. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.09.029

  8. Mansour D, Gemzell-Danielsson K, Inki P, Jensen JT. Fertility after discontinuation of contraception: a comprehensive review of the literature. Contraception. 2011;84(5):465-77. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2011.04.002

Additional Reading