Many modern birth control methods have high success rates and are effective at preventing pregnancies. But what if you’re using birth control and have decided that you’re ready to get pregnant?
There’s no need to worry since you can technically conceive right after quitting your birth control. However, if you’re like many women, you might end up having irregular periods (or even have zero periods for a few months) after you stop taking your pills or putting on your patch. This can get in the way of your pregnancy plans.
Are Irregular Periods Normal After Quitting Birth Control?
The short answer to this question is “Yes”. The long answer is “It depends on each woman”.
To understand why you can have irregular periods post-birth control, you need to understand exactly what hormone-based birth control products do. Basically, they suppress certain hormones while maintaining the levels of others to prevent ovulation from taking place. Without ovulation, your ovary will not produce a mature egg, which means there’s no egg for sperm to fertilize.
Birth control methods also change your cervical mucus and uterine lining so it’s harder for sperm to reach your Fallopian tube in the first place.
Birth control essentially tampers with your body’s natural hormone producing process. So, even when you stop using pills, patches, or rings, your body still needs time to get its rhythm back and naturally produce and regulate hormones on its own.
Some women need only a couple of days or weeks before their body returns to normal, which means they can get pregnant right away after getting off birth control. For many women, however, it takes them two to three months to get back on track.
If you had irregular periods before taking birth control, you most likely have enjoyed a regular menstrual cycle when you were taking pills or using patches. However, when you stop using birth control, you’ll most likely return to your old irregular menstrual cycle because it’s your body’s “normal” mode.
This can interfere with your pregnancy plans since you can’t predict exactly when you’re ovulating, which means you can’t time your sexual activities on the days when your egg is ready for fertilization.
If you’ve stopped using birth control for more than three months but you still have not menstruated, you might be experiencing post-pill amenorrhea. This suggests that your body is taking a long time to return to its normal hormone production processes, which may or may not reflect a problem. To confirm that you do have post-pill amenorrhea, you’ll want to take a pregnancy test first.
Many women have complained that they didn’t get a period after getting off birth control, only to find out that they had gotten pregnant immediately after quitting. If you get a negative result on the pregnancy test, it’s time to see your doctor.
What You Can Do to Conceive
If you’re having irregular periods after quitting birth control, the best thing to do give your body enough time to regain its balance and get back on its normal hormone producing and regulating process. While you’re waiting for things to get back on track, you can take some steps to improve your overall health and put your reproductive system in good condition.
Eating healthy foods is a good start. Doing moderate exercise 30 minutes a day is also helpful, but the keyword here is “moderate” since too much exercise can interfere with your menstrual cycle.
You’ll also want to get plenty of sleep and ensure you’re exposed to a healthy amount of sunlight every day. Both of these promote a proper circadian rhythm which, in turn, helps with the production and release of prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
These three hormones are important in regulating the menstrual cycle, so keeping them at optimum levels may help your periods get back to normal.
Other Causes of Pregnancy Problems
It’s important to note that irregular periods are not the only thing that gets in the way of your pregnancy plans. Stress, for one thing, can make it difficult for you to get pregnant, so look for healthy ways to keep your stress levels down.
Your current weight, as well as any drastic changes you make to your weight, is also a huge factor when you’re trying to conceive. Because of these, it’s essential to get your doctor’s help before you try to go on a diet or take up an exercise regimen.
Certain medical problems can likewise make it harder for you to conceive, including endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If you have any of these conditions, you have to consult your doctor before you try to conceive.
Getting Your Period Back
Having a period after stopping your birth control methods is a joyful moment, particularly if you’re trying to get pregnant. However, it’s recommended that you try to conceive once you’ve had a second period from the time you quit birth control.
According to experts, the first period after you stop taking pills or using patches and rings is called a “withdrawal bleed”, meaning your body is still adjusting to life without birth control.
The second period after that is your first “natural period”. Waiting after you get your first natural period can be helpful since it gives you plenty of time to take folic acid supplements and do other things to prepare your body for pregnancy. It also makes it easier for your health care provider to calculate your due date and track your baby’s growth and development.