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Unveiling the Connection: Birth Control's Impact on Fertility

Jessica Joseph, RN, BSN, MHA
March 1, 2023
Birth control impact on fertility
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Women who have taken birth control for an extended period are concerned about its impact on getting pregnant.  The effect on fertility can vary significantly depending on the type of birth control used.  Despite widespread belief, most birth control will not affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant once stopped.  It is essential to dispel this misconception and shed light on the scientific evidence that supports the fact that women who decide to take birth control will not have fertility issues later in life.


Birth control methods are designed to prevent pregnancy by either suppressing ovulation, blocking sperm from reaching the egg, or altering the uterine lining.  The temporary suppression of fertility is one of the primary mechanisms by which birth control methods prevent pregnancy. However, it is important to note that this suppression is reversible. When a woman stops using birth control, her fertility typically returns to normal within a few cycles. Studies have shown that there is no long-term impact on fertility for women who have used birth control.  Birth control methods offer numerous benefits, including the ability to plan pregnancies, regulate menstrual cycles, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and manage hormonal imbalances.

Types of Birth Control


Hormonal Birth Control

Hormone methods of birth control help prevent ovulation (egg release from the ovary) from occurring. 


Hormone options include:

  • Oral contraceptives (pill form)

  • Patches

  • Injections

  • Vaginal Ring


Barrier Birth Control

Barrier methods may or may not include hormones and prevent fertilization (sperm inseminating egg) from occurring. 


Barrier options include:

  • Intrauterine Device (IUD)

  • Diaphragms

  • Condoms

  • Cervical Cap

  • Sponge


Alternative Birth Control

Natural family planning, which involves tracking ovulation based on a woman’s menstrual cycle, is hormone free and does not impact fertility. 


Tubal ligation is a medical procedure in which women get their fallopian tubes blocked and is a permanent option for birth control.


Impact on Fertility

Pills, Patches, Vaginal Ring


Hormonal birth control combines estrogen and progestin, or progestin only.  This method prevents ovulation from occurring and also thickens cervical mucous, which makes it difficult for sperm to survive and can prevent fertilization as well.


The pill form is taken daily, patches are changed weekly, and the vaginal ring is changed monthly.


Impact on Fertility: When women stop this form of birth control, ovulation returns relatively quickly, and women can get pregnant as soon as 1-3 months.  The length of time these birth control methods are used does not impact how quickly ovulation resumes. 




Injectable birth control contains the hormone progestin, which also prevents ovulation.  Injections are given every 13 weeks (four times a year).


Impact on Fertility: Since this form of birth control is administered in longer intervals (every three months), it remains in the system longer. As a result, it can take longer to get pregnant after the last injection is given.  It may take up to 9-18 months after the last shot is given to get pregnant.




An intrauterine device (IUD) is inserted vaginally into a woman’s uterus by a physician.  It can stay in place for years, making it a convenient option for women. There are two forms of IUDs, a copper device that does not contain hormones and a hormonal device.


Impact on Fertility: Once an IUD is removed, a woman can get pregnant within one month.  The type of IUD used (copper or hormonal) or the length of time inserted does not impact the time frame to get pregnant.




Birth control implant is a progestin form of birth control.  It involves inserting a device into a woman’s arm by a physician.  Since it is a progestin-only form of birth control, it is a good option for women who cannot be on estrogen for medical reasons.


Impact on Fertility: Once removed, a woman can get pregnant relatively quickly, in as little as one month.


Cervical Cap, Diaphragm, and Sponge


According to Harvard Health, the cervical cap, diaphragm, and sponge are the least reliable sources of birth control and are not recommended for women who have already given birth.  This is a barrier form of birth control that involves inserting a device made of silicone or plastic into the vagina before a woman has sex. No hormones are involved, but spermicide, a gel used to kill sperm, must be used with the cervical cap and diaphragm.


Impact on Fertility: Since these methods are meant to be used each time a woman has sex and does not contain hormones, it does not impact fertility or the ability to get pregnant once not in use.


Tubal Ligation


Tubal ligation, often called “getting tubes tied,” is a permanent form of birth control involving a surgical procedure on a woman’s fallopian tubes. 


Impact on Fertility: Once performed, a woman cannot get pregnant on her own.  The procedure would have to be reversed to have a biological child, which does not always guarantee a pregnancy. If a woman does not want to perform the reversal, she can see a fertility specialist and consider undergoing IVF.


Women who decide to take birth control should not be concerned about its impact on their fertility. Scientific evidence consistently shows that birth control methods do not cause fertility issues later in life. By dispelling this myth, we can empower women to make informed choices about their reproductive health, free from unnecessary worry.  Guided Fertility’s mission is to promote accurate information and a positive narrative surrounding birth control's impact on fertility, ensuring that women have the knowledge and confidence to make choices that align with their individual needs and goals.



Girum T, Wasie A. Return of fertility after discontinuation of contraception: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Contraception and Reproductive Medicine. 2018 Jul 23;3:9. doi: 10.1186/s40834-018-0064-y. Erratum in: Contraception and Reproductive Medicine. 2023 Apr 21;8(1):29. PMID: 30062044; PMCID: PMC6055351. sponge#:~:text=The%20diaphragm%20and%20cervical%20cap%20block%20sperm%20from%20entering%20the,works%20mainly%20by%20killing%20sperm.

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