Myth busting: Fertility when coming off the pill

Posted on 11 October 2018

Myths and legends have a way of staying with use, even when they have no basis in truth. A lot of women worry that the pill might be doing bad things to their fertility. A lot of women think that we need to stop the pill a long time before trying to get pregnant because they worry it might take months for their period to come back.

These facts are not true, actually. The idea of post pill “amenorrhoea” or lack of a period as a condition in itself is a myth. Doctors tell teenagers learning how to take the pill that if they accidentally miss a few tablets, they could have an “escape ovulation” and accidentally get pregnant, so condoms must be used as a 7 day contraceptive buffer.

Actually, if your cycle is normal, your natural period should return 4-6 weeks after stopping the pill.

Why hasn’t my period come back after stopping the pill?

If you period hasn’t come back after stopping the pill, there is something wrong underlying the issue, and it has nothing to do with the pill. It might have a lot to do with why you were started on the pill in the first place. Conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are common. Symptoms are often covered up by the pill and “unmasked” when pill use ceases. There are lots of other reasons for irregular cycles for which doctors prescribe the pill as treatment, with complicated names like hypothalamic ammenorhoea. This condition can occur at anytime in life and is especially associated with psychological and physical stress, low body weight, low BMI and high levels of physical exercise.

What should I do if my period hasn’t come back?

If your period hasn’t come back a few months after stopping the pill, you should see your GP and have a few basic hormonal blood tests – including a pregnancy test!

What does having no period mean for my fertility?

If you are not having a regular period, you are not regularly ovulating. This makes getting the timing right to conceive extremely challenging as you may never realise when the right time to have sex is! If you have no period and you are not pregnant, you may not be ovulating at all. This means there may be absolutely no chance of getting pregnant. Don’t leave it for months before getting checked out properly and seeking help to regulate your cycle.

You may need referral to see a specialist. If you are trying to conceive, you should request a referral to see a reproductive endocrinologist fertility specialist  (CREI subspecialist) as we are best trained to help you, no matter the reason for your problems.


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