Barrier and hormonal contraception methods only temporarily prevent pregnancy. Once a person stops using these methods, the body’s natural fertility will typically resume.

Sterilization methods, such as tubal ligation or vasectomy, are likely to affect fertility permanently, although it may still be possible to conceive children in some cases.

This article discusses whether different contraceptives can impact a person’s fertility.

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The aim of contraceptives is to prevent pregnancy. There are many types, including:

  • Hormonal methods: These include the pill, patch, injection, and implant. They temporarily alter a person’s hormone levels to prevent pregnancy, and normal fertility resumes once a person stops using them.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs): These T-shaped devices, also called copper coils, release copper into the womb. There is also a hormonal IUD that releases progestin into the womb. Depending on the type, they prevent pregnancy for 5 to 10 years, but normal fertility will resume once the IUD is removed.
  • Barrier methods: These include condoms and diaphragms. These methods do not alter a person’s hormone levels, and a person needs to use them every time they have sex in order to prevent pregnancy, unless they are using other methods of birth control. They are temporary and do not affect fertility.
  • Sterilization: These methods, such as tubal ligation or vasectomy, aim to affect fertility permanently.

Once a person discontinues the use of contraception, the temporary effects on fertility begin to wane, and the body’s natural reproductive functions typically resume.

Research and clinical evidence support that there is no long-term impact on fertility after stopping most contraceptive methods.

For example, those who have used hormonal birth control pills, patches, or IUDs generally see a return to their normal fertility levels within a few months after discontinuing use.

Similarly, fertility awareness methods and barrier methods offer no delay in the return to fertility since they do not alter the body’s hormonal balance.

Learn more about common birth control methods.

The timing for when someone can get pregnant after stopping contraception varies depending on the type of contraceptive used.

Contraceptive typeTimeline
Birth control pills (combined and progestin-only)Fertility may return almost immediately after stopping the pill. Many people can become pregnant within the first month after stopping, but for some, it might take a few months for ovulation to resume normally.
IUDFertility can return very quickly after removal, sometimes as soon as the next menstrual cycle. It is possible to become pregnant immediately after removal.
Contraceptive implant (Nexplanon)Fertility is likely to return quickly after removal, often within the first month.
Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera) injectionThis can cause a longer delay in the return to fertility compared with other forms of contraception. It may take anywhere from a few months to a year after the last injection for fertility to return to normal, allowing for pregnancy.
Contraceptive patch and vaginal ringFertility can return almost immediately, with the possibility of pregnancy occurring within the first month after stopping their use.
Barrier methodsSince these methods do not use hormones to prevent pregnancy, they do not affect fertility. It is possible to conceive as soon as a person stops using them.
SterilizationThese are permanent methods of contraception. While some surgical reversal procedures exist, they are not always successful, and fertility may not be restored to the level it was before the sterilization.

Does the duration of contraception matter?

With certain methods of contraception, the duration of use can influence the timing of the return to fertility, but it generally does not affect long-term fertility.

Age and underlying health conditions are more criticalfactors in long-term fertility than the duration of contraceptive use.

People concerned about fertility or planning to conceive after using contraception should discuss their history and concerns with a healthcare professional to receive personalized advice and support.

Contraception and fertility myths are common, often fueled by misinformation, cultural beliefs, and lack of access to accurate sexual health education.

One such myth is that long-term use of hormonal birth control can permanently affect a person’s fertility, particularly in females.

However, there is no substantial evidence to suggest that long-term use of hormonal birth control causes permanent infertility.

Fertility typically returns to normal a few months after stopping hormonal contraceptives, although there may be a short delay in the return to fertility, especially after stopping injectable contraceptives.

Check out this page on debunking common birth control myths.

While contraception is a safe and useful tool that allows people to decide if or when they want children, there are some potential drawbacks concerning fertility, such as:

Masking underlying conditions

Some hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, can regulate menstrual cycles, making them appear regular. They can also reduce painful and heavy periods.

These effects can mask underlying conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis. Once a person stops taking these contraceptives with the intent to conceive, they might discover fertility issues that were hidden by the effects of birth control.

Delay in return to fertility

Certain contraceptives, especially long-acting methods such as injectable birth control (Depo-Provera), can cause a delay in the return to fertility.

For some, fertility may return immediately after stopping contraception, but for others, especially after long-term use of injectables, it may take several months to regain fertility.

Misunderstandings about fertility

There can be misunderstandings about how quickly fertility returns after stopping contraception.

While fertility may return quickly for many people after stopping birth control pills, patches, rings, or IUDs, there is variation in how different bodies react, and some may experience a longer time frame before fertility is restored.

Perceived infertility

In cases where people have used contraception for a long time and then experience difficulty conceiving, they might mistakenly believe that their contraceptive use is the cause of their fertility issues.

However, age and other underlying health conditions can be significant factors in fertility that are not related to past contraceptive use.

Contraceptive failure and unplanned pregnancy

No contraceptive method is 100% effective, and failures can occur, leading to unplanned pregnancies.

This can be particularly problematic for people relying on contraception due to health conditions that make pregnancy potentially harmful.

Impact on menstrual cycle and symptoms

Hormonal contraceptives can affect the menstrual cycle and symptoms, such as reducing menstrual flow and cramps.

For some, this is a benefit, but for others, it may lead to concerns about the impact on their natural cycle and what might be considered “normal” for them once they stop using contraception.

Learn more about the long-term effects of birth control.

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about birth control and fertility.

Can birth control cause infertility in the future?

No, using birth control does not cause long-term infertility. Once a person stops using contraception, their fertility should return to whatever is normal for them, though the time it takes can vary depending on the method used.

What are three disadvantages of contraception?

The disadvantages of contraception vary depending on the method used, as each comes with its own set of potential side effects and considerations.

  1. Side effects: Some contraceptives, especially hormonal ones, can cause side effects such as mood changes, weight gain, and irregular bleeding.
  2. Need for consistency: Methods such as the pill require daily intake at the same time for maximum effectiveness, which can be inconvenient or easy to forget.
  3. Barrier to immediate fertility: Some methods, particularly long-acting reversible contraceptives such as the injectable Depo-Provera, can delay the return to fertility for several months after discontinuation.

However, the benefits of contraceptives usually outweigh the drawbacks, and people should consult a doctor to discuss which form is best for them.

What contraceptives do not affect fertility?

Barrier methods, fertility awareness methods, and withdrawal do not affect fertility. Fertility returns immediately after these methods are discontinued, as they do not alter the body’s hormonal balance or reproductive system function.

For those planning to conceive after stopping contraception or who have concerns about their fertility, consulting a healthcare professional is advisable. They can offer guidance tailored to a person’s health history and fertility goals.