Updated: Jul 19
Does Birth Control Cause Infertility?
For many women around the world, birth control and infertility are two terms that go hand-in-hand. The widespread thought that birth control impairs with a woman’s fertility is nothing short of a myth, as scientific research has proven otherwise. The use of contraceptives, irrespective of type or duration, does not have a negative effect on the ability of a woman to conceive following discontinuation. Nevertheless, what these control methods are designed to do is to prevent pregnancy by only temporarily delaying your fertility. As such, when you halt on their use, your fertility eventually returns.
Myth: Birth Control Causes Infertility?
As a woman, you have probably heard of the myth, birth control causes infertility. Well, if you have, then I’m glad you came across this blog, as I hope to help you clear off this misconception. But before we get down to that, I’ll love you to have a clear understanding of female infertility, the most common birth control methods, and how they are used to prevent pregnancy.
“I’ll love you to have a clear understanding of female infertility, the most common birth control methods, and how they are used to prevent pregnancy.”
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What does female infertility mean?
It's key to understand the affects of birth control on infertility, So, where do we start. Let's define what infertility is. Specific, what it means for a woman.
A woman is said to be infertile when she’s unable to get pregnant after series of unprotected sexual activity for at least 12 months. For a woman to naturally conceive, a series of processes must happen, which includes:
• One of the two ovaries releasing a mature egg, which gets picked up by the fallopian tube.
• Sperm cells swimming up through the cervix, uterus, and into the fallopian tube to fertilize the produced egg.
• The fertilized egg traveling down the fallopian tube into the uterus, and implanting itself on the uterus wall.
Any disruption to the processes above will lead to a failed conception. However, it is important to know that infertility can also be as a result of a man’s low sperm count, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the travel and delivery of sperm cells. As such, a woman can only be said to be infertile when she fails to conceive for at least 12 months after series of unprotected sexual intercourse with a fertile, healthy man.
Cause of Infertility
The causes of infertility in women are mostly due to ovulation disorders. A particular frequent occurrence is the Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes a hormone imbalance. Also, Hypothalamic dysfunction is another ovulation disorder that impairs with the ability of the pituitary gland to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones are responsible for stimulating the ovaries to produce an egg every month.
Other causes include a blocked or damaged fallopian tube, which prevents sperm cells from reaching the egg, endometriosis, and several uterine or cervical disorders.
“Causes include a blocked or damaged fallopian tube, which prevents sperm cells from reaching the egg, endometriosis, and several uterine or cervical disorders.”
What is Birth Control?
Another simply understanding of those wanting to conceive is understanding birth control and the most most common methods.
Birth control is a term used to refer to any method that can be used to prevent pregnancy. It can be a physical barrier (condoms and diaphragms) that prevents sperm cells from reaching the egg, a hormonal process that prevents ovulation (birth control pills), or a technique that prevents implantation of a fertilized egg inside the uterus (intrauterine device). These are the most common contraception methods. However, there are less popular alternatives out there like the surgical sterilization.
When physical barriers are used, sperm is stopped from reaching the egg. When sperm cells fail to come in contact with the egg, fertilization, and thus, pregnancy, cannot occur. Examples of the most common physical barriers include diaphragms and condoms that can be inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse.
Hormonal methods of contraception involves the use of hormones to prevent conception. They work by stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs through halting the production of FSH and LH, or by keeping thick mucus in the cervix (entrance of the womb) so that sperm cells cannot pass through.
Contraceptive hormones can be taken orally (pills), inserted into the vagina (vaginal rings), or even injected into the bloodstream.
Now that you are familiar with some common birth control methods, let’s dive forward to see whether these methods can have an impact on your fertility as a woman.
Can birth control cause infertility?
So the final question is: Does birth control cause infertility?
Many women are still not entirely clear if years of birth control will cause fertility problems at a later date in their lives. The simple answer is no. Contrary to the famous myth, it does not affect a woman’s chances to conceive. Of course, it’s understandable why there are a lot of unfounded myths surrounding the use of birth control methods, especially the pills. For some women, prolonged use of the pills have been reported to cause delayed ovulation and irregular period activity for several weeks after discontinuation. Others were not able to get pregnant for at least 3 months after halting the use of these pills. These kind of effects often instill fear in many women, and are mostly at the heart of most infertility rumors.
Research finding of birth control and infertility
A Several research studies carried out to assess the effect of prolonged use of birth control pills in getting pregnant again after discontinuation found some quite satisfying results many women would love to hear. The scientific research integrated a compound approach, and reviewed twenty-two studies that enrolled 14,884 women as the subjects of the study. These women have used some birth control methods, mostly pills or IUD for a prolonged period of time, and now, they want to get pregnant again. The results, unsurprisingly, revealed that 83.1% of these women were able to get pregnant within 12 months after contraceptive discontinuation. That’s a little over 4 in every 5 women got pregnant within 12 months after discontinuing the use of contraceptives.
So, the question remains, when can a woman conceive?
How long does it take to conceive after birth control?
Generally, most women take at most three months for their normal cycle to return after discontinuing the use of pills and other contraceptives. Birth pills for instance, only stay in the body for a short period of time, which is obviously why you need to keep on taking them continuously for you to not get pregnant. Once you stop taking this pills, your normal cycle should return, and thus, your ability to get pregnant within a few months.
However, if your cycle doesn’t return to normal after three months, it’s advised that you visit your gynecologist for appropriate checkups.
Written by Asenda Health.
Disclaimer: Alway speak to your Doctor before taking medical advice from an online forum.
Research and Further Reading
Meta Title: BIRTH CONTROL AND INFERTILITY - ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW!
Meta description: The common thought that birth control impairs with a woman’s fertility is nothing but a myth. Use of contraceptives, regardless of type or duration, does not cause infertility.