How Can You Get Pregnant When You've Been On The Pill For Years?

It might be easier than you think to conceive after being on the Pill.

woman looking at pregnany test Photolibrary/Matton

If you're one of the 28 percent of women on birth control who use the Pill as contraception, you might be wondering how can you get pregnant if you've been on the Pill for years. The good news is that being on the Pill -- either the combo progestin-estrogen version or the progestin-only one -- does not affect your fertility after discontinuing it, although it can take a few months to begin ovulating again and having regular periods. "I've had women ovulate just two weeks after stopping the pill, whereas for others it's taken several months. Every body is different," says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City. (The Pill keeps eggs from being released by the ovary -- as well as thickening the cervical mucous thicker so the sperm can't "swim" to the egg.)

In a large study of nearly 60,000 women of child-bearing age who had used the Pill, where the average age of the women 28 years old, 21 percent of women got pregnant after just one ovulation cycle, 46 percent became pregnant after three cycles, and nearly 80 percent of women became pregnant after one year -- statistics similar to women who have never used oral contraception. And the amount of time the women had been using the Pill before getting pregnant made no difference.

Remember, however, that after about age 35, a woman's fertility begins to naturally dip. So it may take longer to become pregnant in your mid to late 30s whether or not you've been on the Pill or not. If you're over 35 and have been trying for six months or longer, visit your doctor -- regardless of what type of birth control you've been on -- to find out if other issues might be preventing you from getting pregnant.

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