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Can taking the pill make you infertile?

If you have previously used the pill, the evidence shows that it will not make you infertile. It is important to be able to assure women about this so that they can confidently choose their contraception.

For this reason, 22 studies investigating this question were reviewed in 2018. This review included analysis of 11,636 women to show that 87% of those who had stopped using oral contraception (the pill) conceived within a year. Importantly, this is similar to the overall rate (84%) of women trying to get pregnant in the general population and therefore shows that prior use of the pill had no impact on fertility rates.
Additionally, rates of conception were also similar for other types of contraception studied and did not vary based on how long contraception had been used for. Based on this analysis, the review authors concluded that the duration or type of contraceptive does not have a negative effect on the ability of women to conceive once it has been stopped and it doesn’t significantly delay fertility.

You can get pregnant as soon as you come off the pill, so it’s important to use another form of contraception straight away, such as condoms. However, it is also important to note that your periods may be irregular when you first come off the pill, and you should allow up to 3 months for your natural menstrual cycle to fully re-establish itself. This is because the pill contains the hormones that stop the release of an egg (ovulation) each month and these can continue to act for a short time (1-3 months) after you have stopped taking the drug.

Sources: Girum T, Wasie A. Return of fertility after discontinuation of contraception: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Contracept Reprod Med. 2018;3:9. Published 2018 Jul 23. doi:10.1186/s40834-018-0064-y

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/when-periods-after-stopping-pill

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Dr Gillian Holdsworth headshot

This post was clinically reviewed by:
Dr Gillian Holdsworth Fettle's Managing Director, Medical Doctor and public health expert.

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