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If you’re currently taking birth control pills—or have in the past—you may be concerned about whether it damages your chances of getting pregnant.

Ever since birth control pills were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1960, there have been rumors that the pill may harm fertility.

With so many conflicting stories posted online and myths being shared among women over the last several decades, it can be hard to get a clear answer about whether you should worry.

Read our roundup of the research on the short and long-term effects of oral contraceptives on your fertility, as well as the other factors that matter.

Do you know your fertility fact from fiction?

What the Studies Say

Birth control users, you can breathe a sigh of relief! This is a well-researched topic and there is plenty of evidence showing that the pill does not hinder your chances of getting pregnant (once you come off it, of course!).

Both short- and long-term users often experience a brief delay in conceiving after stopping the pill, compared with those who only use barrier methods.

This is because their hormones may need time to readjust to a natural cycle. But several studies show that the pill does not damage fertility in the long run.

The pill could even increase your fertility, according to research published in the journal Human Reproduction.

More than one in five women actually fall pregnant just one cycle after stopping the pill, a comprehensive survey of over 2,000 women found.   

And nearly 80% of women were able to get pregnant within a year, the European Active Surveillance Study on Oral Contraceptives concluded in 2009. 

The pill could even increase your fertility, according to research published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Those who had used the pill for more than five years actually got pregnant faster than those who’d been on it for just a few months, the study found.

This could be down to improved iron stores or the protective effect on the uterus of minimal menstrual shedding.

It also found no evidence of long-term negative effects on fertility.

Man and woman hugging

The pill has been shown to have no long-term effects on fertility

The Factors That Do Matter

While the length of time you’re on the pill will not affect the strength of your fertility, there are many other lifestyle and pre-determined factors that you could consider.

If you suffered any menstrual-cycle irregularities before going on the pill, you shouldn’t be surprised if these return when you stop taking it.

The pill may not harm your fertility, but it certainly can’t fix underlying gynecological issues.

This is because the synthetic hormones in the drug often mask those problems. The pill may not harm your fertility, but it certainly can’t fix underlying gynecological issues.

The pill also doesn’t suspend time, so it’s worth considering your age before you started oral contraception compared to when you discontinue it. As you age, your fertility will naturally decline.

However, there’s no need to be alarmed about any one particular factor—and it’s better to assess the bigger picture.

Your age, stress level, weight, diet, and pre-existing conditions will all contribute to your chances of getting pregnant.

Also, fertility issues are not limited to women: men’s fertility health, such as the strength of their sperm count, is also a big contributor. 

The Bottom Line

Whether you’ve been on birth control pills for five months or five years, your body should go back to ovulating the way it did before you started oral contraception. 

No matter where you are on your journey, talk to your primary physician or ob-gyn about what steps you can take to best prepare your body and mind for pregnancy.