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Sex

When to stop taking hormonal birth control if you want to get pregnant

A method-by-method breakdown.

by Kate Wahl, Science writer for Clue. Reviewed by Sarah Toler, Science Writer for Clue
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Top things to know

  • Most people who stop taking birth control to try to get pregnant are successful within the first year

  • For some types of birth control, there can be a temporary delay in getting pregnant

  • The delay one may experience depends on the method 

  • To get pregnant, you need to have sex in the “fertile window” of your cycle

Many of us spend years of our lives using birth control. But what happens if you decide you’d like to conceive? In this article, we will review the different kinds of birth control and what happens when you stop using them to try to get pregnant. 

Will hormonal birth control affect my ability to become pregnant in the future? 

No; most people who stop using any type of birth control become pregnant within a year of stopping. And, after two years, there isn’t a difference in the ability to conceive, between those who stop using hormonal birth control and those who stop using other methods, like condoms (1,2).

How long does it take to get pregnant after stopping hormonal birth control?

Because hormonal birth control affects the reproductive cycle, it can temporarily delay how long it takes to get pregnant. The number of months it takes to get pregnant after going off your hormonal birth control depends on the specific method you were using.

Getting pregnant after going off the shot, for instance, may take longer than getting pregnant after removing an IUD.

Below, we use research findings to break down the numbers on how long it takes for a person in their mid-20s to early 30s to become pregnant, for each type of hormonal contraceptive method. For reference, it takes people who are around that age an average of four months to become pregnant once they stop using barrier methods like condoms, or behavioral methods like natural family planning. (One study showed that 68% of these people conceive in three months, 81% conceive in six months, and 92% conceive in twelve months.) (3,4)

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Download Clue to start tracking your fertile window.

The IUD

Hormonal IUDs are inserted into the uterus and release progestin (5). It takes an average of four months to get pregnant after the removal of a hormonal IUD (6).

  • 38% to 43% of people conceive within 3 months

  • 56% to 65% of people conceive within 6 months

  • 79% to 96% of people conceive within 12 months (7,8). 

The copper IUD is non-hormonal, so users tend to experience a faster return to fertility.

  • 50% and 58% of people conceive within 3 months

  • 72% to 75% of people conceive within 6 months

  • 71% to 91% of people conceive within 12 months (1,6,9).

Combination pills

Combination pills contain a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin (10). People who stop taking combination pills take an average of eight months to get pregnant (4).

  • 52 to 57 percent of people conceive in 3 months

  • 71 to 83 percent of people conceive in 6 months

  • 77 to 94 percent of people conceive in 12 months (5,11,12). 

The Shot

Injectable birth control contains progestin with or without estrogen and, depending on the specific type, is taken every one to three months (13). It can take an average of 5 to 9 months to get pregnant once you skip a shot to try and conceive. So, if you usually take a shot every 3 months, it would take about 8 to 12 months after the last shot you took to get pregnant (4,10). 

Counting from the date of the first skipped shot:

  • 23% to 35% of people conceive in 3 months

  • 52% to 59% of people conceive in 6 months

  • 77% to 82% of people conceive in 12 months (10,14,15). 

Within two years of stopping the shot, about 92% of people will conceive (10,15). 

The Implant

Birth control implants are inserted under the skin and release progestin (16). After removing an implant, it takes an average of 3 to 8 months to get pregnant (1). 

  • 38% to 50% of people conceive within 3 months

  • 63% to 77% of people conceive within 6 months

  • 77% to 86% of people conceive within 12 months (17–20). 

Two years after the implant is removed, about 90% of people will conceive (18–20).

Progestin-only Pills, The Ring & The Patch

There is not a lot of research about these types of birth control. In one study, people who stopped taking progestin-only pills took about as long to get pregnant as those who stopped using condoms (4). 

Does using emergency contraception (the morning after pill) affect my future fertility ? 

According to the World Health Organization, taking emergency contraceptive pills does not affect the ability to get pregnant in the future (21). 

If I had my tubes tied, can I still get pregnant if I want to? 

Getting your tubes tied (tubal ligation) is designed to be permanent. If you want to try and get pregnant, it is possible to have the procedure reversed. In general, research suggests 31% to 90% of those who have the procedure reversed will be able to become pregnant and depending on how the tubes were tied in the first place, how long it has been since they were tied, and how damaged the tubes are (22). Another option for pregnancy after getting your tubes tied is in vitro fertilization (IVF) (23).

What if I stopped using birth control and still haven’t gotten pregnant? 

First, remember that to get pregnant, you need to have sex in the “fertile window” of the cycle (you can use Clue to track your cycle regularity, cycle length, basal body temperature, and cervical fluid to help figure out when your fertile window is) (24). A common rule of thumb is that if you are consistently having sex in the fertile window and haven’t gotten pregnant within a year (or six months if you’re over the age of 35), you should consider checking in with your healthcare provider (24). 

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