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Birth Control Does Not Hurt Your Chances of Becoming Pregnant Later

close up of yellow, white, and red oral contraceptives on a wooden surface

News flash: Birth control = rubber, STIs = glue.

Many patients ask me, does using birth control now hurt my chances of getting pregnant in the future? Sigh of relief: it does not.

All methods of birth control that aren’t permanent (which you can get for free or low-cost at your nearest The Right Time health center) will help prevent pregnancy while you’re using them. But none of them change your ability to get pregnant when you stop. That’s why people who use the pill can get pregnant after missing just one pill.

Consider this: a big study of over 2,000 women who stopped taking the pill after using it for an average of seven years found that 21% were pregnant in one month and 79% were pregnant in a year, compared to 80% of women who had not used hormonal birth control. In other words, women who use the pill get pregnant just as fast as other women, even if they’ve used the pill for years.

Women who quit the patch, ring, implant, or IUD get pregnant at similar rates. For some women who stop using the shot (Depo-Provera), it can take a few extra months to start normal menstrual cycles again. It is possible to get pregnant as soon as three months after getting the shot, but for some the hormones in the shot stick around for up to nine months and can decrease your chances of getting pregnant during that time, but this varies from person to person. In general, most women get pregnant soon after stopping hormonal birth control.

Updated February 2020

Tina Raine-Bennett, MD, MPH, is a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, and Medical Director of the New Generation Health Center. New Generation is a family planning and STD clinic for adolescents where Dr. Raine gets to do what she loves best: help young women.

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The Right Time Health Centers

Our partner health centers are focused on you. They provide access to all methods of birth control and free or low-cost birth control to those who need it.