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Fertility and Contraception Use

Many women worry about the effect of contraception on their future fertility. However studies show that a fertility returns to normal after a short delay once contraception is stopped. Here we discuss the different types of contraception and when to visit your GP if your periods haven’t returned to normal. 

Does contraception impact future fertility? 

The short answer is no. Studies have shown that contraception use, including long term contraception use doesn’t affect future fertility rates. 

However, while the pill does not cause fertility problems, it can mask underlying problems you may already have, such as irregular periods. 

Image of an IUD, one method of contraception which generally stops periods for the duration of time it is inserted in the uterus.

When does fertility return after stopping contraception?

For most contraception types fertility returns almost immediately after stopping. 

  • Combined pill and progesterone only pill – There is no evidence to suggest a delay in fertility returning after stopping the pill hence women should be aware they could get pregnant immediately on stopping. 
  • IUD – There is little data available on the return of fertility after use of the hormonal coil. Reviews of the evidence suggest no delay in return to fertility. An IUD needs to be removed by a specially trained doctor or nurse and women who do not wish to conceive should start using another method of contraception for at least seven days before removal.
  • Copper coil – It is possible to get pregnant straight away after the copper coil is removed. The copper coil needs to be removed by a specially trained doctor or nurse and women who do not wish to conceive should start using another method of contraception for at least seven days before removal.
  • Injection – There can be a delay of up to one year for fertility to return when stopping taking Depo-Provera and Sayana Press. Your doctor should inform you about this so that you can plan your pregnancies accordingly.
  • Implant – Women can have the progestogen-only implant removed at any time, and their natural fertility will return very quickly. Women who wish to avoid pregnancy should be advised that contraception is required immediately after implant removal

When will my period return after stopping contraception?

It can take a while for your periods to come back after you stop taking hormonal contraception. Most women will have a period around 2 to 4 weeks after stopping, but this depends on you and what your cycle is normally like. 

With an IUD, the implant or the pill periods may be irregular for the first 3 months. The injection may take longer for periods to return after stopping.

When should I visit my GP if my periods haven’t returned?

Your periods may be irregular when you first come off contraception, and you should allow up to 3 months for your natural menstrual cycle to fully re-establish itself. If they don’t return to normal within the first few months you should visit your GP. You can read more about irregular periods here.

Image shows a packet of contraceptive pills

What contraception should I use if planning to conceive in the near future?

If you are planning to get pregnant in the near future speak with your doctor about what contraception is most suitable for you. Most contraceptive methods have an almost immediate return of fertility except the contraceptive injection which can have a delay of up to a year. 

Although the hormonal coil and copper coil also offer almost immediate return of fertility they require an appointment for removal. Speak with your doctor about the usual wait times and availability of these appointments to help you make the best decision. You can read more about optimising your health preconception here.