Coming off contraception; What you need to know

So you’ve decided you want to start trying - now what?

You and your partner have had the talk; you’re ready to make your duo into a trio and to start your own little family. But having been on one form or another of contraception for the last few years, how do you unravel the relationship between your body and your contraception? How long will it take? Will it have had an effect on our long-term chances of getting pregnant?

We’re here to answer all your questions and provide answers on where to get more info, no matter what type of contraception you’ve used; here’s how to get off of it.

Non-hormonal contraceptives

Stopping some methods will mean you can get pregnant straight away. These are non-hormonal and include:


diaphragms or caps

copper coils

orange condom

It’s generally fairly easy to become pregnant after using condoms, diaphragms or caps, once you stop using whatever barrier device you have been using. These barrier methods of contraception do not affect the length of time it takes for you to become pregnant.

The copper coil is an intrauterine device or IUD. The IUD does not contain any hormones and you continue to ovulate while it's in place. There is no delay in returning to normal fertility once the IUD gets removed. The other type of coil is an intrauterine system (IUS). An IUS is a small, T-shaped plastic device that's put into your womb (uterus) by a doctor or nurse.  It contains a low dose of the hormone progesterone. Examples of this type of coil include the levonorgestral intrauterine delivery systems (including Mirena, Kyleena and Jaydess). Once your IUS is removed, your fertility returns to normal very quickly.

Hormonal contraceptives

Glistening heart near packaging with pills

Other contraception methods work by changing the levels of certain hormones in your body. These are known as hormonal contraceptives.

These can affect the length of time it takes for your fertility to return to normal.

Hormonal contraceptives include:

the 'pill' (the combined oral contraceptive pill)

the vaginal ring

contraceptive patch

the mini-pill (or progesterone-only pill)

intrauterine system (IUS)

contraceptive implant

contraceptive injection

Hormonal contraceptives are reversible. This means that after stopping them, your fertility will return to normal. The pill, vaginal ring and the patch are all methods of contraception that raise the levels of two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, in your body.

The pill, ring or patch work by stopping your body from producing an egg each month (ovulating). Once you have stopped using the pill, ring or patch, you will probably have a withdrawal bleed. This is like a period but it is because of the effects of the hormones leaving your system.

medication pills blister pack

Some doctors prefer you to wait until after your first 'natural' period before trying to get pregnant. This makes it easier for them to know the date of your pregnancy. However, there is no reason why you cannot begin trying to conceive immediately after stopping the pill, ring or patch.

Many women conceive shortly after stopping the pill, ring or patch. Occasionally, it can take several months before your body begins producing an egg each month (ovulating) after stopping these types of birth control.

The progesterone-only pill, or 'mini-pill', is a tablet that raises the level of the hormone progesterone in your body. Depending on the type of pill, it may stop you from ovulating. It may make it difficult for sperm to travel to the egg. Your fertility should return to normal within a very short time of stopping the mini-pill.

white plastic tool

The contraceptive implant (the bar) is a small tube that is inserted into the inner part of your upper arm. This implant releases a low level of the hormone progesterone. This helps to stop you from ovulating as well as making it difficult for sperm to meet the egg. Once this is removed, your natural fertility will return quickly, often within days.

The contraceptive injection (medroxyprogesterone acetate or Depo Provera) is a large dose of progesterone given every 3 months. This injection stops you from ovulating. The effects will last for at least 12 weeks after your last injection. After this, you may become pregnant quickly. But, as it is a relatively high dose of hormones, it can take longer for fertility to return to normal. In some cases, it can take up to a year.

Irreversible and hard to reverse methods

Other types of contraception include tubal ligation or vasectomy. It is not easy to become pregnant after these procedures. Discuss your options with your doctor if you have used these contraception methods.


Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.




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