When Should You Stop Your Birth Control Before Trying to Get Pregnant?

Birth control is a vital part of your health when you are trying to avoid pregnancy, but deciding when to stop it when you are trying to get pregnant can be challenging. This post will help walk you through the steps of choosing the right to stop taking birth control.

“Birth Control Review.” Image. Special Collections, New York Public Library. American History. ABC-CLIO, 2010. Web. 3 Oct. 2010

Step #1 Choose a pregnancy date

Of course, you don’t want to stop your birth control pills too far in advance or you’ll risk an unplanned pregnancy. Which, might not seem so bad if you’re thinking of trying to get pregnant in the near future. However, you may have a few things on your bucket list before getting pregnant, or you may still be in the Zika window– the time period following travel to a Zika-affected country. So the most important thing is to decide when is the earliest you want to get pregnant.  To help you decide if you are ready check my article Are We Ready to Have a Baby?

Step #2 Pros & Cons

Next, consider the pros and cons of contraception. Why did you start it to begin with? Did you only begin birth control to prevent yourself from getting pregnant? Or did you take it to control painful periods? Severe cramping? Acne? Keep in mind that when you stop your birth control all those undesirable side effects of your period will return once again. Consider the pros and cons of birth control and no birth control. For me, probably the worst part of going off my hormonal birth control has been its effect on my skin. I didn’t even realize what a positive impact birth control had on my skin until I stopped it.

Step #3 Consider alternative methods of birth control

Are barrier methods an option for you and your partner? If you decide to stop hormonal birth control before you are ready to become pregnant you need to find a non-hormonal alternative. The most common option is a condom, but you could also consider a diaphragm if you can find a provider who will fit it and a pharmacy that will dispense it. I know diaphragms sounds like a thing from the past, but I’ve met a couple young patients who have been very happy with it. Another option is the fertility awareness method (FAM). I will describe this method in a future post to help you get pregnant, but it can be used in reverse to prevent pregnancy.

Step #4 Learn about your current Birth Control Method

Different methods of birth control take different amounts of time to completely leave the body and stop their effects. Additionally, different people react to it differently. Use this as a guideline for return of fertility:

MethodAverageRange
The Pill2-3 months1-6 months
Depo Provera10-12 months after last injection4 months-2 years after last injection
Mirena (or other hormonal IUD)1-3 months after removal
Paraguard IUD1-4 months after removal
Barrier (condom, diaphragm)Right away
Other hormonal methods2-3 months1-6 months

 

There is always a chance of getting pregnant as soon as you stop your contraception. Some providers recommend using a barrier method until you get your first normal period. Birth control hasn’t been shown to harm the baby in any way, but waiting one cycle allows your body to resume its normal hormonal balance before becoming pregnant. If you decide to wait to stop your birth control until you are ready to start trying to become pregnant, just know that it may take you a little longer due to residual hormone in your body.

Step #5 Choose your stop date

With this information you and your partner can decide when to stop your contraception. Sometimes people don’t mind trying for a year. In that case you can wait to stop your birth control until 1 month before you start trying. Other women have a small window of time when they can become pregnant due to career or family obligations and yet other women just know that the longer they try the more frustrated and stressed out they will become. If that is you, you may want to stop your birth control sooner. As always, talk to your partner and make the decision that is best for you.

To guide you through trying to get pregnant, check out my article “10 Steps to Start Trying to Get Pregnant