What to Expect After Stopping Birth Control
First thing to realize: Everyone’s post-birth control experience is different. We recommend paying attention to the changes in your body and consulting your doctor if you have any concerns.
Here are some common changes that may occur in the months following your last pill, shot, or removal of an IUD or patch:
Irregular cycles: If you had irregular cycle lengths before starting birth control, you’ll probably go back to being irregular. Tracking your bleeding is a good idea to get an accurate sense of how long between bleeds.
Acne, unwanted hair (hirsutism), cramps and PMS might come back: Same deal, if you had these symptoms before BC, they’ll probably return. Again, keep a symptom diary so you can share concrete information with an OBGYN. All of these symptoms could be clues to underlying conditions like PCOS or endometriosis that are important to manage.
- Your weight may go down: Progestin-only birth control tends to encourage weight gain so getting off a progestin-only method may have the opposite effect. (Note that this is not a recommended strategy for weight loss.)
Tips to Help Get Pregnant
Stop Taking the Pills as Soon as You’re Ready to be Pregnant
Ovulation and subsequent pregnancy is entirely possible the very next month after stopping birth control. Or, it may take a few months.
The time to pregnancy will vary based on what type of birth control you were on. In general, if you’ve been having frequent, unprotected intercourse for one year and aren’t pregnant, it’s time to see a fertility specialist.
Track Your Fertility: Become Intimately Familiar with Your Menstrual Cycle
Knowing when you are approaching ovulation is the name of the game, and there are several methods to help you do so!
Whatever you choose, get familiar with your cycle length and your symptoms of fertility. These symptoms include: cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and urinary hormones like luteinizing hormones (LH) and our favorite, progesterone!
There are many methods for tracking your cycle and ovulation, including ovulation calculators, cervical mucus monitoring, and at-home fertility tests.
Correct timing of intercourse is essential for getting pregnant. The “fertile window” averages 6 days long in any given cycle regardless of cycle length. This is the best time to have intercourse or inseminate, as this is when either method is most likely to result in conception.
Begin a Pre-Pregnancy Diet
If your cycle is healthy, you will ovulate an egg that took about 3 months to develop. This 3-month lead up is a huge opportunity to supercharge your body by eating a nutrient rich diet.
This means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables that provide food sources of folate, vitamin C and carotenoids, all important for overall health and nourishment of your developing egg. Also include lots of good fats from whole, unprocessed foods like avocados, eggs, seeds and nuts, fish and seafood, and red meat. In addition to fats, these delicious foods give you high quality protein which provide the amino acid building blocks you’ll need to grow your baby.
Start Taking a Prenatal Multivitamin
In addition to eating foods that are naturally high in vitamins and minerals, take a daily prenatal vitamin that contains the recommended 400 to 800 micrograms of folate. This is a general recommendation. For supplement recommendations that are tailored to your unique needs, consult a prenatal nutritionist.
Schedule Preconception Checkups
Has it been awhile since your last OBGYN visit? Your doctor is the best person to catch any medical conditions that need management before you conceive. Preconception visits include screening for STIs, as well as management of chronic conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, eating disorders or asthma.
Your doctor will also assess your exposure to reproductive toxins and screen for depression or domestic violence. Bring a list of any medications or supplements you take regularly.
Schedule Your Partner for a Preconception Exam, Too
Reproduction is a team sport! While, unfortunately, male fertility and men’s health doesn’t get as much attention as women’s health, your partner (if male) also needs to be checked for STIs, chronic conditions, exposure to reproductive toxins, and substance abuse. The goal is to enter parenthood with both partners as healthy as possible.
Take Care of Your Mental & Emotional Health
Different couples approach parenthood differently. For some, the experience of trying to conceive can be anxiety-provoking and mentally taxing, perhaps even triggering past traumas that have not been addressed. If this is you, now is the time to seek professional help for strategies to manage your stress.
Remain Active: Keep Your Body Moving
Physical activity helps manage stress, blood sugar levels, and keeps your bones and muscles strong for the physically demanding task of gestating. If you are already active, maintain. If not, it’s not too late to start with a few minutes a day of moderate exercise such as brisk walking. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week.
Look for Ways to Reduce Stress & Increase Downtime
Doesn’t it seem like everyone’s default setting is busy? In a world that values productivity, you and your partner may need to be intentional about carving out time to do nothing – just be – and enjoy each other. There are countless ways to increase downtime ranging from regular massages to weekend getaways to daily meditation or nature breaks. Be intentional and authentic about being “off”.
Your Health, Lifestyle Habits, and Genes Play a Role in Timing: Remember Everyone is Different
Stopping birth control is just the beginning of an exciting journey that may have unforeseen twists and turns. Many factors affect a couple's fertility include your current health and health history, your current diet, exercise, sleep and stress levels, and your family history or genetic predisposition.Want to better understand your fertility at home? Try our tests!