How Does Birth Control Affect Fertility

46308439.jpgIf you have been using birth control for any length of time and are now thinking about starting a family, you may be wondering how birth control may have affected your fertility. In some cases, couples who stop using birth control panic if they don’t achieve pregnancy within weeks and immediately seek out information about their infertility treatment options. Others conduct research into the relationship between birth control and fertility, only to find a lot of conflicting information and, unfortunately, misinformation.

As one of the nation’s most trusted and reputable fertility specialists, Dr. Laurence A. Jacobs strives to provide people who are struggling with fertility issues with the objective, factual information they need to make the most educated and confident decisions possible regarding their infertility treatment. Whether you receive information about fertility and birth control directly from Dr. Jacobs during a confidential consultation at his Chicago clinic, or you use the information presented in this blog post to seek treatment in another area of the country, his foremost goal is to provide you with the facts.

We urge you to read on to learn more about fertility and birth control and then to schedule your initial appointment with the only Chicago-area reproductive endocrinologist to be named in both America’s Top Doctors and Chicago’s Top Doctors from 2001 to 2015.


Most methods of birth control do not affect fertility. However, depending on how long a person has been using birth control, other factors that can influence fertility may come into play. For example, if a woman who started using birth control pills at the age of 25 decided to try to become pregnant 10 years later, her age would become a factor in her ability to become pregnant. While she might not have any difficulty achieving pregnancy, her odds of becoming pregnant at the age of 35 are less than they would have been at the age of 25. Likewise, if that same woman decided to try to become pregnant at the age of 37 or 38, age would become an increasingly influential infertility factor.

Otherwise, the relationship between birth control and fertility depends primarily on the birth control method:

  • The birth control pill: For most healthy women, normal ovulation begins within weeks of their ceasing to take the pill. Overall, 80 percent of women who try to become pregnant after they stop using the pill are successful, which corresponds to the percentage of women who achieve successful pregnancy without having taken any birth control. Furthermore, contrary to what many people believe, women who take birth control pills are not at higher risk of complications during pregnancy or of giving birth to a child with congenital defects.
  • Condoms or diaphragms: If you use these methods to prevent pregnancy, simply stop using them. In many cases, they have helped shield women from sexually transmitted diseases that otherwise would have threatened their ability to become pregnant.
  • Depo-Provera: Depo-Provera is the brand name for an injectable contraceptive that is administered every three months to suppress ovulation and prevent sperm from reaching any eggs that might be released.  While it is possible for a woman to become pregnant three months after her final Depo-Provera shot, it usually takes between eight months and a year-and-a-half for the drug to work its way out of the system. At that point, fertility tends to return to what it would have been if the woman had not been taking Depo-Provera.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs): There is a slight risk of pelvic inflammation associated with intrauterine devices, which can contribute to infertility. However, this risk is extremely low. In general, fertility returns to what it otherwise would have been within months of the removal of the IUD.
  • Tubal reversal and vasectomy reversal: Fertility restoration procedures such as these have good, but far from perfect, success rates. The likelihood of achieving successful pregnancy after the reversal of a sterilization procedure depends on a variety of factors, including the amount of time that has passed since the procedure.

A good general rule of thumb is this: If you have been trying to become pregnant without success for at least six months after your fertility should have been restored according to the above guidelines, you should probably consider fertility treatment.


To learn more about fertility and birth control, or to explore your fertility treatment options, please contact Dr. Laurence Jacobs today.