Getting off the pill before pregnancy

Everything you need to know about getting off the pill and trying to conceive

Many women take the contraceptive pill right up until they decide it’s time to try for a baby. But how long do you need to wait between stopping the pill and falling pregnant?

How does the pill work?

The contraceptive pill works by supressing your body’s ovulation cycle. It does this by releasing hormones that prevent the release of your eggs, and therefore reduce to almost zero your chances of getting pregnant.

Once you have stopped taking the pill, its ovulation-suppression hormones quickly dissipate from your body. This is why some women can fall pregnant if they forget to take their pill during their cycle.

If I premeditate it, how long after stopping the pill do I need to wait to try to conceive?

You can start trying straight away if you want to. Some women choose to wait until their body has settled back into its natural menstrual cycle, which usually occurs within 2 to 3 months.

Even if you have been taking the pill for over 10 years, the reversion to normal menstruation and fertility is rapid.

Is there any risk to the baby if I fall pregnant soon after stopping?

There have been no studies that have found a link between the contraceptive pill and any risk to the health of a baby. Doctors do recommend increasing your folic acid intake (which can be achieved through supplements) during the last package of your pill cycle. This is largely precautionary rather than prescribed, and can act as a preventative measure against birth defects and the risk of miscarriage.

Are there any benefits to waiting?

The main benefits to waiting are not associated with the pill at all. Preparing to fall pregnant and giving yourself some time before trying to conceive allows you to make any lifestyle changes that could improve the health of your baby (e.g. cutting out smoking and drinking, improving diet etc.).

Although all women and their bodies are different – along with everyone’s experience of pregnancy – if it has been more than a few months after stopping the pill, you are confident you aren’t pregnant, and your menstruation hasn’t returned, you should speak to a doctor.

Did you have to wait long after stopping the pill to fall pregnant? Did you run into any complications?