What you need to know about coming off contraception to get pregnant whether you're taking the pill, depo provera or another form of contraceptive.
Once you and your partner decide to start trying for a baby it can be tempting to drop everything and simply start racing down the baby track all guns blazing. However, depending on the type of contraception you're currently using, sometimes a little patience can be necessary before you start trying to conceive. We explain more.....
The rhythm method
If you've been using natural fertility charting methods as contraception you'll simply need to reverse what you're doing, focusing on having sex around your most fertile time rather than abstaining. You're already likely to be very in tune with your body's natural rhythm so pinpointing ovulation is something you're going to be a dab hand at. However, there is always the option of simply having regular sex and seeing how things go rather than meticulously charting your cycle as this can help to take the pressure off.
As condoms don't have a direct impact on your fertility you simply have to stop using them when you decide to start trying for a baby. The same practice applies to other 'barrier methods' of contraception such as the diaphragm and cervical cap.
The combined pill
As the combined pill works by altering levels of the fertilty hormones in your body so as to suspend ovulation it can take a couple of months for your body to regain its natural rhythm. For this reason, if you're thinking about trying to conceive its recommended that you complete your current pill cycle and then use an alternate form of non-invasive contraception such as condoms until you begin to experience regular periods again. While it is possible to come off the pill and start trying to get pregnant straight away, waiting for a couple of months will help your body to flush the synthetic hormones and restart your menstrual cycle. Dating your pregnancy will also be easier this way.
The mini pill
As the mini pill only contains a synthetic form of progesterone (and not oestrogen like the combined pill) it is possible to stop taking it mid-way through a cycle and start trying to conceive straight away. However, it is generally recommended that you hold off getting started on the baby track until you experience one 'normal' period after coming off the mini pill as this makes dating your pregnancy a whole lot easier.
The contraceptive effects of your last hormone injection will last up to 12 weeks, after this it can take between 3 and 6 months for your body to regain its natural equilibrium and your level of fertility to return to normal, however it can take longer than this for some women. For this reason it is recommended that you use an alternative form of contraception until you begin to experience regular periods again.
Neither the copper coil or progesterone IUS are thought to have a long term impact on your fertility as for most women they simply prevent fertilisation and implantation rather than ovulation. For this reason it is theoretically possible to become pregnant soon after you have the intrauterine device removed although this does vary from woman to woman. You will need to make a visit to your health care provider to have the IUD removed and they may advise you to wait for a month or so until you experience a 'normal' period before you start trying to conceive.
The contraceptive patch
As the contraceptive patch affects the balance of fertility hormones in your body it is recommended that you complete your current patch cycle and wait until you experience a normal period before starting to try for a baby. However, just as with the combined pill you may find that it takes a month or two for your menstrual cycle to settle back into its natural rhythm.
Whatever type of contraception you're currently on, or even if you've already started trying to conceive, it can be a good idea to visit your health care provider for a pre-natal check up before you fall pregnant so that you can be confident that your body is in the best shape possible.
It may reassure you to know that 80% of couples conceive within a year of starting to try for a baby. So, even if your cycle takes a little while to settle down after coming off a hormonal form of contraception, in all likelihood you'll be well on your way to parenthood by this time next year.
Whether you're simply thinking about life with a baby or have been trying to conceive why not visit the AskBaby forums to find advice, support and friendship from others in a similar situation.