After the Pill
The birth control pill prevents a pregnancy by preventing ovulation. Without ovulating you cannot get pregnant. So if you are on the birth control pill, the first step in trying to get pregnant is to stop the pill. Preferably, if you want to get pregnant and you have been on the pill, you wait until the end of the birth control pill pack and then just don't start with the new pack.
How much time should I wait after stopping the pill before I try to conceive (TTC)?
You do not have to wait a certain period of time after stopping the pill in order to have a safe pregnancy. It is safe to get pregnant as soon as you have stopped the pill. However, it may take some time after stopping the pill before ovulation begins. Some women may ovulate within 1-2 weeks after stopping the pill, while in others it could take several months. Ovulation may be delayed or may not happen for a long time if you had started the pill initially because your periods were irregular and you already had problems with ovulation.
No Period After The Pill
Missing your period is also called amenorrhea and the very first thing that comes to mind when you don’t have your period if you could be pregnant. If you don’t get your period for some time after stopping the pill chances are that you are either pregnant (do a pregnancy test!) or you did not ovulate. Even without getting your period first there might be a chance you are pregnant. Taking a pregnancy test will pretty much tell you whether your are pregnant or not. A negative pregnancy test, especially if it’s repeated over a week or so, usually means that you are not pregnant.
Is there anything wrong if my period hasn’t come for 2-3 months after stopping the pill? When should I see my doctor?
You can be reassured that the sort of delay you're experiencing after going off the pill is quite common and here's what's going on:
Combined contraceptives, containing both estrogen and progesterone, are the most commonly used oral contraceptives. They prevent ovulation by maintaining certain hormone levels and suppressing other natural hormones that would otherwise stimulate the ovaries to ripen and release an egg. By taking combined oral contraceptives, you prevent an egg from developing, or being released, for that cycle.
While a woman is on the pill, the menstrual period doesn't come - as it usually does, as a result of ovulation - but because of the sudden decrease in hormone levels during the one week per month when the pills she takes are placebos, when they don’t contain any hormones. Because their cycle is controlled by the pills, women taking oral contraceptives are used to getting regular menstrual periods every 28 days.
When you stop taking the pill entirely, the constant hormone level that suppresses ovulation stops. Your body has to start its own hormone production and may sometimes need some time to regain its normal rhythm. The ovary itself has to get ready so that an egg can mature and can be released.
While there are several hundred thousand eggs in the ovaries ready to mature, they may need some time before your first new ovulation.
What does all this have to do with my menstrual period?
It is important to remember that your regular menstrual period is usually the result of ovulation, not the other way around.
Menstrual bleeding usually results from a decrease in natural hormone levels about 14 days after the ovulation, if you're not pregnant. The average woman takes one month to three months to start ovulating again after stopping the pill. Sometimes ovulation may occur sooner; other times, it may take longer. So the first sign that your ovulation has returned is usually the reappearance of your regular menstrual cycle, a couple of weeks after ovulation.
"Post-pill amenorrhea," the absence of a menstrual period after you stop the pill, is seen in about one in 30 women after they stop the pill. Until you start menstruating regularly, it's going to be difficult to tell exactly when you've ovulated, unless you start checking for other signs of ovulation.
To improve your chances of predicting the day of ovulation, you may want to do the following:
- Use a basal body temperature thermometer and create a temperature chart
- Check your cervical mucus for signs of ovulation
- Add an ovulation-prediction kit (OPK)
You might want to have sex regularly, once a day or every other day, around the time you think you might be ovulating or when the ovulation-prediction kit shows you are about to ovulate, just to make sure you don't miss the important day of ovulation.
After the IUD - Intrauterine Device
If you have an IUD, an intrauterine device, and you want to get pregnant then the only thing to do is to have it removed. This is usually a quick and painless process in the doctor's office. There are 2 different IUDs on the market, a copper-containing IUD and a hormone-containing IUD. No matter which one you have, as soon as it has been removed it is safe to get pregnant. It may take a little longer to ovulate after the hormone-containing IUD, but pregnancy can happen very quickly after the IUD.
If your menstrual cycle has not returned by three months, or more, after you stop the pill, you probably want to see your Ob-Gyn and discuss what to do next.