Eight-month wait for fertility to return after stopping contraception
12th November 2020

Eight-month wait for fertility to return: Women face long delays before they can conceive after stopping contraception, research suggests

  • Speed at which a woman became pregnant depended on type of contraception  
  • Those who came off injectable contraceptives waited from five to eight months
  • Women who stopped using implants reported getting pregnant two months later
  • Boston University and Aarhus University team pooled data from three studies

Women may have to wait up to eight months for their fertility to return to normal after stopping contraception, say researchers.

The speed at which a woman became pregnant depended on the type of contraception she had used rather than the length of time she had been using it. 

Women who came off injectable contraceptives had to wait between five and eight months to become pregnant, while those who stopped using patches had a four-month wait.

Users of the Pill took, on average, three months, while women who stopped using implants, including IUDs, reported getting pregnant two months later. 

Users of the Pill (oral contraceptive pictured) took, on average, three months. The method of contraception continues to be the most popular choice for women in the UK (file photo)

The team from Boston University in the US and Aarhus University in Denmark, whose research is published in the British Medical Journal, pooled data from three studies involving nearly 18,000 women.

At the start of the study the women reported their contraceptive histories as well as personal, medical and lifestyle information.

Follow-up questionnaires were sent over two months for up to a year or until they reported they had become pregnant.

Researchers say their findings ‘might inform clinical recommendations on contraceptive decision making’.

They added their results did not show any lasting effect of using these contraceptive methods over a long period of time.

The study reads: ‘Overall, we found that use of IUD devices and implant contraceptives was associated with short delays in the return of fertility, with injectable contraceptives showing the longest delay.

‘Understanding the comparative effects of different contraceptives…is essential for family planning, counselling for contraception and management of infertility.’

The pill continues to be the most popular contraceptive choice for women in the UK, with around two thirds of women aged 20-24 taking it regularly to prevent pregnancy.

Women who stopped using patches had a four-month wait to become pregnant. The team from Boston University and Aarhus University pooled data from three studies (file photo)

Meanwhile, those who stopped using implants, including IUDs, copper coil device pictured, reported getting pregnant two months later (file photo)

Meanwhile around 14 per cent of women using contraception use either implants or injections. The injection is more than 99 per cent effective if used correctly, according to the NHS website.

They do warn that it can take ‘up to one year’ for fertility to return to normal after the injection wears off, ‘so it may not be suitable if you want to have a baby in the near future’.

Commenting on the findings Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director at CREATE Fertility, said: ‘The latest BMJ study offers interesting and useful information for women taking contraception.

‘It emphasises the importance of counselling women about their individual future fertility needs when prescribing contraception.

‘It’s not just about the effectiveness and side effects, but also about providing information on how quickly their fertility is likely to return when they decide to come off contraception, should they decide to try and fall pregnant.’

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