Oral contraceptives often referred to as ‘’the Pill’ are one of the most commonly used contraceptives when trying to prevent pregnancy.
For many women, the first step when you decide that you are ready to start trying to conceive will be coming off the pill. Preparing to start a family is a big deal, therefore, at Fertility Help Hub we have come up with this helpful guide of things to expect when coming off birth control, in the hope of getting pregnant, and important factors to consider before taking the leap.
Words by Holly McElroy
Things to consider before you stop taking the Pill
The time it can take to get pregnant after stopping birth control can vary and it is important to remember that it is possible to conceive within weeks.
While there is no issue in getting pregnant straight away, the NHS recommends that you wait until after your first natural period. Typically, the first period after coming off the pill is a ‘withdrawal bleed’ and the second period is your first natural bleed.
Although, you can start trying to conceive straight away, waiting until after your period will help you know where you are in your cycle for ovulation detection and tracking. These are things you may be monitoring whilst trying to conceive naturally, or with assistance from a fertility specialist.
Make some time for yourself to manage the side effects of coming off the pill
Just like you might have felt a little out of sorts when you first started using hormonal birth control, it’s normal to feel a little ‘off’ when you first stop. Luckily, our bodies can adjust pretty quickly, so this transition period should only last a matter of weeks.
Stress can affect your cycle and exacerbate any unpleasant symptoms you may be experiencing. Therefore, it is important to make relaxation and self-care a priority while your body recalibrates.
Engage with your support network
The hormonal changes and the stress of trying to conceive can make coming off the Pill a daunting time. This is why it is all the more important to have someone to talk to and support you during this time. Whether that be a partner, friend, or family member, having someone to talk to about your feelings and concerns can be really beneficial. This is especially the time if it’s taking longer than planned to get pregnant following coming off contraception and you’re starting to feel anxious and desperate for it to happen (as we felt). Don’t blame yourself for being on contraception if you find out about a fertility issue after stopping, there is unlikely to be a correlation between the two.
You may get pregnant straight away, or it may take some time
All bodies are different. Therefore, there is no way of knowing how long it will take you to conceive, whether you have been using birth control or not and, while it is theoretically possible you may get pregnant the first time you have sex after coming off the Pill, it doesn’t mean you definitely will.
For a lot of women, it can take some time for your cycle to return to regularity and for ovulation to occur, and that is perfectly normal too.
Your period should return – eventually
The pill makes your periods arrive like clockwork, but stopping can throw that predictability off-balance. and it may take some time to settle back into a regular ovulation cycle.
According to the NHS, most women’s periods will return to normal within three months of stopping the pill, but this time-frame may be longer or shorter, depending on your body and what your cycle was like before starting the pill.
It is also important to bear in mind that factors such as weight, health, stress, and exercise can all influence your cycle, and it is perfectly normal for your periods to be irregular at first when they return.
Pre-pill menstrual symptoms may come back
In addition to preventing pregnancy, the pill is often used for regulating menstrual cycles, alleviating heavy periods and skin conditions such as acne. Therefore, when you stop taking the pill, your hormones will return to operate in a normal cyclical fashion, and the symptoms you had before going on the pill may return.
This can include acne, irregular spotting, bloating, mood fluctuations and breast tenderness.
Therefore, if these symptoms do return, it is important to talk to a health-care professional about other options that may alleviate these symptoms. Additionally, if it’s taking a while to get pregnant following stopping contraception, it could be worth speaking to a doctor or fertility specialist to check all is ok.