Birth Control and Future Pregnancy


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Like some young women my age, I currently take contraceptives.  I don't want to have the surprise of a pregnancy until I know for sure that I'm ready. The best way to ensure that is of course to abstain from sex. But if you engage in sexual activity the best way to protect yourself from pregnancy is by using some form of birth control. For me the pill is one of the most responsible, assuring way to do so.

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At some point in my life I would like to have a baby. I'm pretty sure I'll be taking the pill until I'm actually ready to do that. I've been on it for 2 years now, and I started wondering if long-term use of oral contraceptives effect future reproduction. Birth control pills are hormones and I wanted to know if there are any longtime effects from them.

Thankfully there is no negative effect seen at all regarding becoming pregnant. According to an article from Today, it doesn't matter how long you've been on the pill, if you stop taking it your body will go back to its natural cycle (birth control pills stop ovulation) and you can become pregnant. 79.3% of women who've been on the pill for two years and then gone off became pregnant after one year. And 81% became pregnant even though they were on the pill longer,

I couldn't find any other information to refute these findings. These odds look pretty good to me and I can rest reassured that when the time comes, I'll still be able to start a family.

 

3 Comments

I have also been on the pill for two-and-a-half years now, and I also was once concerned with its long-term side effects, particularly side effects that may inhibit pregnancy later in life – something that would horrify me as I am 100% sure I want to have children in the future.
When I first went on it, I took to the internet to research if the pill was a potential cause of infertility, and every website spit back the same, positive information: there is no existing proof that extended use of oral contraceptives will cause infertility once women stop their usage.
An article on msnbc.com is just one reassuring write-up that presents the comforting results of a study done by the European Active Surveillance Study on Oral Contraceptives (EURAS-OC). Over 2,000 women who went off the pill in hopes of conceiving were followed for two years while the study measured how long it took them to get pregnant, and the study concluded with astonishing results of 21% of the women getting pregnant on their first menstrual cycle after using the pill, and 79.4% were pregnant one year after getting off the pill! The reason these results are so reassuring is because they are near identical to the impregnation rates of women who never used oral contraceptives. The study proved that using the pill for an extended period of time doesn’t affect anything, either. In fact, women considered long-term users in the study (taking oral contraceptives for 2+ years) seemed more likely to get pregnant after the first year (81% of them did) versus the 79.3% of short-term users who got pregnant within the first year after stopping usage.
Another article on WebMD suggested that birth control may aid in fertility as opposed to hindering it. Featuring a different study, WebMD tells of a research product done in the about two decades ago that followed 8,500 couples and their planned pregnancies through the use of a questionnaire about their previous actions before conception (obviously one specific action mentioned was birth control use). The study found similar results to the EURAS-OC study: 75.4% of women who had used the pill for around five or six years became pregnant in less than six months as opposed to 70.5% who had never used it.
So, it’s safe to say you shouldn’t be worried about future infertility problems, even if you will have been on the pill for a long period of time before trying to get pregnant. It may actually be beneficial to your fertility!
If you’re concerned about long-term health effects of birth control aside from fertility – those definitely do exist. Your doctor may have forewarned you before going on the pill about a higher risk of stroke among birth control users, or potential mood swings. However, I found an interesting side effect of contraceptive pills.
Apparently, these hormonal pills can make you less attractive to men! Bummer, right? This Daily Beast article explains that when women ovulate, it can actually be said that their “sex appeal” increases. For a woman who is not on the pill that is going through her natural menstrual cycle, hormone fluctuation is occurring at different stages. At the time of ovulation (when an egg is released into the fallopian tube from the ovary), a woman’s hormone levels are apparently situated in a way that makes her more attractive to men – i.e. feminine changes in “facial appearance, body odor, and vocal pitch”. Apparently the woman’s behavior is also affected by this hormonal fluctuation during ovulation – the article suggests it may spike an increase in a woman’s libido and sexual arousal…definitely something that makes a woman more attractive to a man. Because oral contraceptive users do not ovulate (that’s the whole purpose of the pill), they do not undergo these monthly changes that make them more attractive to men.
So as far as something serious like infertility – I don’t believe you have to worry. As with all medicines, oral contraceptives have their serious health side effects, but they also have some less trivial ones such as the disability to become more attractive to men at a certain time of the month.

Thanks for writing this blog! I have also wondered if this was fact or fiction, and I'm glad that it is indeed fiction, based on your blog and the comment above. My doctor has also told me that infertility is not a side effect of the pill, but it is a good idea to switch types of birth control after about two years or so. However, when I further researched this I couldn't find anything that really backed her up on this statement. Maybe it is just a personal opinion of hers? I highly doubt that as a medical professional she would resort to personal preference when giving advice to her patients, though. However, in every article I found online, there is not a medical benefit with switching the type or brand of birth control you use after a certain amount of time. This coincides with your findings above, that once you go off the pill, it is easy to become pregnant and the pill does not have lasting effects on your body once you stop taking it. Since it has no lasting effects, I can't see why it would be necessary to switch brands or types after a couple years.
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/magazines/allwoman/Should-you-switch-birth-control-_10229877

That's strange of your doctor to say. My doctor always asks me if I'm satisfied with the brand I'm taking, and if I wasn't, then they'd likely prescribe something else. I've never been told that I'd have to switch to anything else after a certain amount of time.

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